rainpebble reads in 2013

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rainpebble reads in 2013

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Editado: Out 15, 2013, 9:23 pm

I am trying an actual rating 'system' this year rather than just rating the book by a number as I 'feel' after having read it. I am hoping that this will bring more consistency to the rating of my reads.

5* = Loved it! Beyond wonderful! Highly recommended.
4* = Really liked it. Recommended.
3* = Overall it was a good read.
2* = It was just okay.
1* = Didn't like it. Meh.
1/2* = Bletch, really bad, sucked!


1. Foreign Bodies by Cynthia Ozick; Orange S/L, 2012; (1 1/2*)
2. The Passion of Alice by Stephanie Grant; Orange L/L, 1996; (4*)
3. Painter of Silence by Georgina Harding; Orange S/L, 2012; (4*)
4. The Translation of the Bones by Francesca Kay; Orange L/L, 2012;
(3 1/2*)
5. The Sealed Letter by Emma Donoghue; Orange L/L, 2012 (2 1/2*)
6. State of Wonder by Ann Patchett; Orange S/L, 2012; (5*)
7. Half Blood Blues by Esi Edugyan; Orange S/L, 2012; (5+*)
8. Sorry by Gail Jones; Orange L/L, 2008; (5+*)
9. The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller; Orange Winner, 2012; (4 1/2*)

And for The Barbara Pym Centenary & my monthly Virago read:
10. Some Tame Gazelle; (3 1/2*)

11. Safe Haven by Nicholas Sparks (3*)
12. The Butterfly's Daughter by Mary Alice Monroe; (3*)
13. Water Tales by Alice Hoffman; (3*)
14. The Snow Owl by Jon Hartling; (3*)

Editado: Out 2, 2013, 12:55 pm


15. The Lost Garden by Helen Humphreys; (4*)
16. Evangeline: A Tale of Acadie by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
(5*); probably about the 7th read of this one for me
17. Shopgirl by Steve Martin; (4*); a reread for me
18. House of Silence by Linda Gillard; (1/2*)
19. Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson; (3 1/2*); a reread for me
20. A Woman of Jerusalem by Elsie Mack; (3 1/2*); a reread for me
21. The Road by Cormac McCarthy; (4 1/2*)

FOR THE Iris Murdoch GROUP:
22. Henry and Cato; (4*)

23. The Magic Toyshop by Angela Carter; (4 1/2*)
24. All God's Children Need Traveling Shoes by Maya Angelou; (4*) a reread for me;

Excellent Women, also a Virago. It is a 4 * reread for me so I don't think I will read it again this month. Perhaps later.

25. The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold; L/L; 2003; (4*)

Editado: Out 2, 2013, 12:56 pm


26. The Children's Book by A.S. Byatt; (5+*)
27. Julie and Julia: Julie and Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen by Julie Powell; (4*)

For the Iris Murdoch group:
28. Something Special; (3 1/2*)

29. The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman; L/L 2013;
(4 1/2*)
30. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn; L/L 2013; (3 1/2*)
31. The Red Book by Deborah Copaken Kogan; L/L 2013; (2 1/2*)
32. Ignorance by Michele Roberts; L/L 2013; (3 1/2*)
33. The Forrests by Emily Perkins; L/L 2013; (4*)

And for The Barbara Pym Centenary & my monthly Virago read:
34. Jane and Prudence; (4*)

Editado: Out 2, 2013, 12:57 pm

Editado: Out 2, 2013, 12:58 pm


44. The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox by Maggie O'Farrell; (4*)
45. The Cat by Edeet Ravel; an ARC/ER; (4*)

In remembrance of our dear englishrose60 I have chosen to read from her library this month:
46. Les Miserables by Victor Hugo; (5*)

47. Where'd You Go Bernadette? by Maria Semple; S/L 2013; (3 1/2*)
48. Life after Life by Kate Atkinson; S/L 2013; (5*+)

For The Barbara Pym Centenary & my Virago read of the month:
49. A Glass of Blessings; (5*)

Editado: Out 13, 2013, 1:05 pm


50. Stuart Little by E.B. White; Y.A; (4*)

Chicken Soup With Rice by Maurice Sendak; (4*)
Pierre: a cautionary tale by Maurice Sendak; (5*)
Alligators All Around by Maurice Sendak; (4*)
Tom's Midnight Garden by Philippa Pearce; Y.A.; (4 1/2*)
Very Far Away by Maurice Sendak; (4*)
Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak; (5*)
Kenny's Window by Maurice Sendak; (5*)
The Selfish Giant by Oscar Wilde, (Author), Fiona Waters, (Author), Fabian Negrin, (Illustrator) (5*)

For SqueakyChu's 'Take It or Leave It' June challenge I am going with DeltaQueen50's 'Faceless Covers' challenge:

51. Lost Tribe: Jewish Fiction from the Edge edited by Paul Zakrzewski; (4*)

52. Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel; S/L 2010; (3 1/2*)
53. Honor: A Novel by Elif Shafak; L/L 2013; (4 1/2 *);

And for The Barbara Pym Centenary read,
we are reading two in this, her birth month:
54. Quartet in Autumn; (4*)
55. No Fond Return of Love; (3 1/2*); which is also my monthly Virago read.

anything: the prayer that unlocked my God and my Soul by Jennie Allen; for my summer online Bible Study: reading throughout the summer

(8 children's books this month)

Editado: Out 16, 2013, 2:04 am


56. When We Were Bad by Charlotte Mendelson; S/L 2008; (4*)
57. The Solace of Leaving Early by Haven Kimmel; L/L 2003; (4 1/2*)

For The Barbara Pym Centenary read:
58. The Sweet Dove Died; (4 1/2*)

For my monthly Virago read:
59. I'm Not Complaining by Ruth Adam; (3 1/2*)

An Anita Brookner group read of any of her books hosted by HeavenAli on the Virago site:
60. The Debut or as titled in the U.K. A Start in Life; (4*)

Little Bear by Else Holmelund Minarik & illustrated by Maurice Sendak; (4*)
A Kiss for Little Bear by Else Holmelund Minarik & illustrated by 71. Maurice Sendak; (4 1/2*)
Little Bear's Visit by Else Holmelund Minarik & illustrated by Maurice Sendak; (5*)
Bears by Ruth Krauss & illustrated by Maurice Sendak; (4*)
Father Bear Comes Home by Else Holmelund Minarik & illustrated by Maurice Sendak; (4 1/2)
Father's Flying Flapjacks by Else Holmelund Minarik; (4*)
Little Bear's Loose Tooth by Else Holmelund Minarik; (4 1/2*)
Little Bear's Friend by Else Holmelund Minarik & illustrated by Maurice Sendak; (5*)
Little Bear and the Marco Polo by Else Holmelund Minarik; (4*)
Lost in Little Bear's Room by Else Holmelund Minarik; (4*)
Little Bear's New Friend by Muriel Pepin; (5*)

61. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee; (5+*) GROUP SUMMER READ

62. Between Heaven and Earth by Sue Kerman; ARC/ER; (4 1/2*)
63. Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah; (3 1/2*)

(11 children's books this month)

Editado: Out 13, 2013, 1:08 pm

My handsome hubby with just a few of the 50 foot row of sunflowers he planted this year.


My month of Virago reading will begin with the Mary Hocking's Good Daughters series:
64. Good Daughters; VMC; (5*)
65. Indifferent Heroes; VMC; (4 1/2*)
66. Welcome Strangers; VMC; (2 1/2*)

67. The Other Woman by Colette; VMC; (4*)
68. The Orchid House by Phyllis Shand Allfrey; VMC; (4 1/2*)
69. The Lifted Veil by George Eliot; VMC; (4 1/2*)
70. High Rising by Angela Thirkell; VMC; (4 1/2*)
71. The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman; VMC; (5*)
72. The Clothes on Their Backs by Linda Grant; Virago fiction; (2*)
73. The Very Dead of Winter by Mary Hocking; Virago fiction; (4*)
74. The Newspaper of Claremont Street by Elizabeth Jolley; VMC; (3*)
75. The Aloe by Katherine Mansfield; VMC; (4*)

The Clothes on Their Backs by Linda Grant; also a Virago although I don't believe it is a VMC; Orange L/L 2008; (2*)

And for The Barbara Pym Centenary read:
missed this month's A Few Green Leaves

Editado: Out 15, 2013, 2:40 pm

WOOT WOOT!~!~! My favorite season of the year: FOOTBALL SEASON!


76. The Bolter by Frances Osborne; Virago nonfiction; (4 1/2*)
77. Marmee & Louisa : The Untold Story of Louisa May Alcott and Her Mother by Eve LaPlante; (4*)
78. The Girl in the Polka Dot Dress by Beryl Bainbridge; (2 1/2*)
79. Gathering of Waters by Bernice L. McFadden; ARC/ER; (4 1/2*)
80. The Cottage at Glass Beach by Heather Barbieri; (4*)
81. Meatless: More Than 200 of the Very Best Vegetarian Recipes by Martha Stewart Living; (3 1/2*)
82. God Ain't Blind by Mary Monroe; ARC/ER; (1/2 *)
83. My Daughter's Eyes and Other Stories by Annecy Báez; (3*)
84. Aria by Nassim Assefi; (3 1/2*)

The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer; L/L 2011; carried over to October

The Barbara Pym Centenary:
I blew it off again; two months in a row. I think I may be Pymed out for a bit.

My Viragos for the month:
The Bolter

Editado: Out 31, 2013, 2:12 pm

Our beautiful lady, Mount Rainier in the Autumn.


85. The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer; L/L 2011; (5*)

For my monthly Virago reads:
86. Wild Strawberries by Angela Thirkell; VMC; (4 1/2*)
87. Surfacing by Margaret Atwood; VMC; (4*)
88. Sleepless Nights by Elizabeth Hardwick; (3 1/2*)
89. The Third Miss Symons by F.M. Mayor; (4*)
90. An Episode of Sparrows by Rumor Godden; (5*)

91. Austin City Blue by Jan Grape; (3*)
92. Say You're One of Them by Uwem Akpan; (3 1/2*)
93. Fly Away by Kristin Hannah; (2 1/2*)
94. About My Sisters by Debra Ginsberg; (3 1/2*)
95. Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons; (4 1/2*)

Editado: Dez 1, 2013, 4:15 am


96. Girl With A Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier; (4*)

Viragos for the month:
97. Seducers in Ecuador by Vita Sackville-West; (2 1/2*)
98. The Heir by Vita Sackville-West; (5*)
99. Plagued by the Nightingale by Kay Boyle; (4 1/2*)
100. Christopher and Columbus by Elizabeth von Arnim; (4 1/2*)

101. I Can't Think Straight by Shamim Sarif; (4*)
102. The Easter Party by Vita Sackville-West; (4 1/2*)
103. Monday or Tuesday: Eight Stories by Virginia Woolf; (3*)
104. The Jungle Books by Rudyard Kipling; (4*)

Dez 16, 2012, 10:18 pm

You are so organised!

Dez 17, 2012, 8:46 am

Oooh, I didn't know it was Barbara Pym's centenary year. I will try to read a new Pym too. I don't know which though.

Dez 17, 2012, 11:21 am

Please do join us. We did Elizabeth Taylor this year and it was a great year of reading her and discussing the books.

And I am only organized because I am anal about my challenges judylou. lol!~!

Dez 20, 2012, 1:20 am

Forgot to mention. That illustration you have chosen (the cat in the bookshelves) is the same as the tapestry I am currently making for my daughter. It is rather cute.

Dez 20, 2012, 4:22 am

I have a book bag that has this on the front of it. It is way cute and your daughter will love that tapestry judylou.

Dez 22, 2012, 2:51 am

State of Wonder by Ann Patchett:

An amazing story of Doctors & Scientists looking for new medicines in the Amazon to help mankind and finding much more than they are seeking.
This is a fascinating story of a young Dr., Marina Singh, who studied Obstetrics and Gynecology under the foremost Dr. in this field, Dr Swenson. As an intern when doing an emergency C-section Marina accidentally blinds a baby who presents breech and face up. Unable to face what has happened she changes to the field of Pharmacology. Unbeknownst to her, her teacher and mentor has also gone into the field of Pharmacology.
Marina goes to work for Vogel, a large pharmaceutical company. She works in a lab doing research on lipids and cholesterol along with a Dr. Anders Eckman. They work together for seven years before the chief administrator of Vogel, Mr. Fox, with whom Marina has more than a business relationship, asks Dr. Eckmann to go down to the Amazon and find Dr. Swenson who has been working there for over five years and does not communicate with the company and Mr. Fox wants to know how far along she is with her research and how much longer before a solution will be found. He was to find Dr. Swenson, get the requested information and return home with or without Dr. Swenson. Dr. Eckman was an avid bird watcher and was more than willing to go. Months later, having still heard nothing from Eckman, they finally receive a brief letter from Swenson telling them that Dr. Eckman had died of a fever and had been buried there in the Amazon.
It is decided that Dr. Marina Singh will go now to attempt to locate Dr. Swenson and get the information. So Marina goes. She waits in the city of Manaus where Swenson comes to get her supplies for the labs, food stuffs and other supplies needed out in the field. She waits weeks and then in the most unlikely of places Dr. Swenson turns up. But she is not forthcoming with the information that Mr. Fox wants and needs. He cajoles Marina into going into the jungle with Swenson, who is very aggravated with this turn of events. But go, Marina does.
When they reach their destination Marina learns so much of the tribal peoples that Swenson is working with and sees that most all girls and women above the stage of menses and even into old age are pregnant or have new babies. This is something that Swenson and her team are studying. They are also close to finding a formula that would stop people from getting malaria.
Marina ends up becoming fascinated by the people, the science, the other Doctors and finds herself still enamored by Dr. Swenson and all that she does. She loves the work and learns so much about everything. I will leave it to you to read this for yourself and learn what all else is entailed in the story. You won't be sorry that you read it.
I found this book to be fascinating and a real page turner. I gave it 5 stars and highly recommend it.

Dez 25, 2012, 8:35 pm

I finished Translation of the Bones by Francesca Kay on my flight this A.M. Will put up a review later, possibly when I return from Texas. It was a very interesting book although the style of writing kept me rather disjointed. I rated it a 3 star read and do recommend this read as the manner of writing may not bother others.

Dez 30, 2012, 10:53 am

State of Wonder is going on the TBR pile - I like reading about scientists and doctors.

Dez 30, 2012, 5:57 pm

I have been intending to read State of Wonder for some months now. I really will have to get to it soon.

Dez 31, 2012, 2:45 am

I certainly hope the both of you enjoy it. I loved it and found it quite fascinating. In fact I was surprised at how much I did care about this book and it's characters.

Jan 1, 2013, 3:10 am

Oh, you are organized! Nice to see you here again, and thanks for the reminder to bump State of Wonder up Mt TBR a bit...

Jan 1, 2013, 2:38 pm

Thanks for including the link to the source of that image... I had to go snag it for my work -- I'm a librarian -- computer's desktop image. Happy New Year's reading!

Jan 2, 2013, 7:04 am

wookie; State of Wonder is an incredibly good Orange read. I think you will enjoy it. By all means bump that one up!

Cyn; you are welcome. Isn't it lovely? Happy New Year's reading to you as well and very nice to meet you.

Jan 2, 2013, 7:19 am

Hi Belva - I'll be following your reading again this year. Great review of State of Wonder, I really liked that one:)

Jan 2, 2013, 11:11 pm

Nice to 'see' you calm. I am so glad that you enjoyed State of Wonder also. Thanks for popping over and I will be checking out your reads this year as well.
Happy New Year to you gal. See you on the threads.

Editado: Jan 4, 2013, 11:55 pm

Safe Haven by Nicholas Sparks
thoughts & comments:
Much too predictably Sparks to be anything special or my head just wasn't into it.
Radically abused wife of police officer finally escapes him and finds herself in a small Southern town. He goes nuts, starts drinking way too much, gets himself suspended and decides to hunt her down and bring her back. Meantime she is just beginning to feel safe and begins to trust people shortly before he finds her. Things turn sour very quickly.
Best part of the book:

"She'd put the steaks in the marinade the day before:
red wine, orange juice, grapefruit juice, salt and pepper.
The acidity of the juices made the meat tender and gave
it extra flavor. It was in a casserole dish on the bottom
shelf of the refrigerator."

I think I am going to have to try that marinade.

I rated this one a 2 1/2 star read.

Jan 5, 2013, 1:44 am

I haven't read much Sparks because I tend to put him in the same basket as Piccoult. Very readable stories, but somehow a bit bland.

Editado: Maio 31, 2013, 12:03 pm

Agreed excepting for a couple and I keep reading him hoping for the same wonder of those couple Judy.

Editado: Jan 5, 2013, 2:33 am

The Translation of the Bones by Francesca Kay
thoughts & comments:

This is a little gem of a book written about a dumpy little middle aged 'girl', Mary Margaret, who is a devout Catholic and in helping to clean the Church thinks that as she is cleaning a statue of Jesus, he begins weeping tears of blood down upon her. She falls in a faint and is in hospital for a few days with a nasty gash in her head.
Word gets out and the Church, much to the dismay of the priest and others, becomes a meeting place for the 'seeking'.
For me, the most interesting part of this story is the 'girl's mother, Fidelma. She is such a large lady that getting about has become impossible for her and she has not been out of their flat for fourteen years. Mary Margaret does all of the shopping and cleaning while Fidelma does the cooking and sits her huge, hulking body in her chair by the window all day and watches what goes on outside.
In Mary Margaret's mind Jesus comes to her and asks her to make a sacrifice to Him. The child she chooses lives but the child who attempts to save him dies from a knife wound inflicted by Mary Margaret.

Some quotes from the book:

"Now she wondered through the sitting room and the kitchen, wanting something, but not knowing what that was. She picked up the book that she had been reading--Elizabeth Taylor's first novel--and put it down again. She wondered about telephoning a friend. By then it was after six; she could legitimately suppose that it was time to change for dinner."

"Glory be to Jesus
Who in bitter pains
Poured for me the lifeblood
From His sacred veins!"

"You will be informed when there is information. Meanwhile you will receive a fistful of sharp words that sting like gravel hurled. Hospital. Psychiatric. Knife wound. Child. Stabbed.
And in the meantime what will you do, you murderer's mother, walled in your own flesh, sealed in your tower, unregarded by the careless world? Will you slowly starve to death, moldering in your folds of skin? Smash through the meagerly rational aperture of window with a rolling pin? Telephone for takeaways to be dropped outside your door until there is no money left to buy them? Condemned to death; well there are worse fates, surely. Except that, in the rightful way, a woman bound to die would do so in the dawn, accompanied by jailers, hangmen, a black-clad priest with a prayer book and a look of pity in his eye. Not all alone, and step by step, as she must. And Mary-Meg, your poor suffering and murderous daughter? Doomed to die as well?"

I liked all of the characters in this story and could even relate to Fidelma. It is very well written and I recommend it with 3 1/2 stars.

Jan 5, 2013, 3:12 am

I am currently reading Tides of War by Stella Tillyard. Have just begun it and at page 16 my head isn't really into it yet. This one was L/L in 2012 for the Orange Prize. I am hoping to really like it once I am committed.

Jan 7, 2013, 7:49 pm

I decided to set Tides of War aside for a bit and last night I began Half Blood Blues. It is sucking me right in.

Jan 7, 2013, 9:45 pm

Half Blood Blues is a great story, very well told. Hope you enjoy it.

Jan 8, 2013, 12:27 am

I am loving it judylou! I really like how it is written. You are totally correct in your description of it. It is a great story, very well told about a most interesting era and a topic you don't come across often. Not your average bear, so to speak.

Jan 8, 2013, 4:56 am

Exactly! I knew nothing about it at all before I read this book.

Jan 8, 2013, 7:16 am

Este utilizador foi removido como sendo spam.

Editado: Fev 1, 2013, 10:47 pm

Half Blood Blues by Esi Edugyan: for Orange January & Book Bingo

Half Blood Blues is a beautiful story about a horrendous time in the history of the world. This is a story that moves from the Paris & Berlin of 1939 to the Baltimore, Berlin & Poland of 1992 and back, with Sid as our narrator. It is the story of extremely talented Black Jazz musicians playing in the ratty closed & boarded up clubs of Nazi Berlin. They have to hide and slink about to be able to play but play they must for this feeds their souls. They hang together day and night with one or the other going out to find booze, food or whatever their needs may be if it can be found.
A French woman, Delilah, comes into their lives; sent from Paris by Louis Armstrong to find them and bring them back to play with him. But the timing is very tenuous because of Nazi Germany and the "boots" (S.S.) stalking the streets of Berlin. And so they hole up and play. The 19 year old Hiero is masterful on the horn, Chip on the drums, Sid on the Bass, Fritz on alto sax, Ernst on the licorice stick (clarinet) and Paul on piano. They spend their time playing and hiding from the S.S. Then Paul is taken, not to be seen again.
As times go from bad to worse, they get their papers in order and hightail it off to Paris. But not all are able to go. Their world turns to madness when one day they waken to hear the German army marching, unhindered by the army of France, into Paris.
As I read this book I could hear their disagreements, feel their pain when they hurt one another or the world hurt them and see the ugliness of their world along with the beauty of their music.
I highly recommend Half Blood Blues and rated it a 5 star read. Oh, that my next one could be as good.

Jan 9, 2013, 1:55 pm

Next up: Foreign Bodies by Cynthia Ozick. On the Orange S/L for 2012

Jan 9, 2013, 6:35 pm

Great overview of Half Blood Blues. I loved the characters. All of those men who were musicians first up, were all flawed to some extent but still so likeable.

I really enjoyed Foreign Bodiesas well. Hope you like it too.

Jan 10, 2013, 8:33 pm

># 41: I agree with your take on Half Blood Blues totally.

However I couldn't abide Foreign Bodies. I found the writing to be so full of adjectives as to be almost unreadable for me. I didn't care for most of the characters although I don't have to like the characters to love a book but this one simply did nothing for me. But I am happy that you enjoyed it judylou.

Jan 10, 2013, 8:36 pm

Foreign Bodies by Cynthia Ozick; (1 1/2 *)

If you wish to read a book filled with adjectives this is the one for you.
We have Bea, a high school teacher of literature, her exhusband Leo who is a composer of music, her estranged brother Marvin, a 'very important' business man, her nephew Julian, who has skipped out on Uni and gone to Paris, (whereabouts unknown), & her niece Iris.
Bea has never met her nephew and has seen her niece only once and very briefly at that. She lives and works in New York and her brother's family lives in Southern California. She is contacted by Marvin who demands that she take time off from her teaching and go to Paris to find Julian and bring him home. She really doesn't want to satisfy her demanding and demeaning brother, but finds herself making arrangements for someone to take over her classes and making travel arrangements as well.
When she arrives in Paris it takes her some time to find Julian and when she does she learns that he is with a woman whom he is in love with and while the young lady works in Social Services, Julian waits tables part time. She is unable to talk him into returning home. Bea returns to New York and apprises her brother Marvin of Julian's resistance to leaving Paris. This angers Marvin greatly and he blames Bea for the boy's decision.
Later Marvin decides to send Iris to Bea to fill Bea in on all of the details of Julian's life and what he is like, hoping that with this knowledge if Bea were to return to Paris she would have a much better chance of enticing the young man to return to home and school. Iris stays one day and skips out leaving a note for Bea telling her that she is going to Paris to find her brother and attempt to bring him home. Iris thinks she would have better luck than her Aunt Bea. When brother Marvin finds this out he again blames his sister Bea and is very angry.
Things go from boring to more boring to most boring. This book was either over my head or I just didn't get it. It just seemed half azzed to me. When I finished it, I thought to myself what a waste of 4 or 5 hours. I rated this one 1 1/2 stars just because I found the characters rather interesting but I didn't care for the writing nor the storyline and I do not recommend it. I am so surprised that it made the Orange Prize listing.

edited to admit that apparently I am the only one that this book did nothing for. Therefore I am claiming 'head in the wrong place at the wrong time'.

Jan 10, 2013, 8:37 pm

Jan 10, 2013, 10:28 pm

'head in the wrong place at the wrong time'.

I get this all the time. Books that I know I will like; that I know I should like; that everyone else likes; can just make me want to throw them away. I always think I will try to reread these ones, just in case, but somehow I never do.

Jan 11, 2013, 3:00 am

Oh, there are so many good books, I do find it hard to find time to go back and re-attempt a book I didn't like the first time...

Things go from boring to more boring to most boring.

Oh dear!

Jan 11, 2013, 9:48 am

I'll definitely be adding Half Blood Blues to my list. It sounds excellent.

Jan 11, 2013, 9:40 pm

wookie, perhaps an embargo on new books would help us to read all those old ones we want to pick up again?

Jan 11, 2013, 10:12 pm

Judy, I do try an embargo on new books periodically, but I just can't resist their fabulousity! I think I've already bought five books this year...

Jan 11, 2013, 10:17 pm

No, the willpower is not up to that .. I was referring to a publisher's embargo ;o)

Jan 11, 2013, 10:30 pm

#50> LOL! I wish! :)

Editado: Jan 13, 2013, 8:21 pm

Painter of Silence by Georgina Harding

A beautiful title for a beautiful story.

The backdrop of this story is pre & post war Romania and tells the tale of a deaf-mute stable boy, Tinu, who is the son of a house cook and his friend and defender, Safta, the daughter of the house. They live in the countryside and as described in the book, it is very lovely and peaceful there. Then comes the war. The family all leave for safer parts of Europe except for Safta and her mother, who eventually leaves as well. Safta leaves also and goes to live with her father, attend university and becomes a nurse.
She goes to work in a hospital and after some time she notices a young gentleman patient who doesn't speak and soon realizes that he is her childhood friend Tinu. Tinu has a horrible pulmonary illness and coughs incessantly. She pays special attention to him in her hours & days off and after a long period of recovery, though yet ill, she and a fellow nurse are allowed to take him to her fellow nurse's home to complete his recovery.
Because Tinu could never communicate naturally, he has learned to draw and to draw beautifully. But he doesn't just draw images and pretty pictures. He draws the world around him. Things he has seen, loved; things that were part of his life.
Painter of Silence was written in the form of past tense, present tense, past tense, present tense, etc. A form of writing that doesn't always work but in this book it does so beautifully. The main part of this storyline is Tinu telling of he and Safta's time apart in pictures.
I liked this book very much indeed, rated it 4 stars and highly recommend it. I know that it will not leave my mind for some time to come.

next up: The Passion of Alice by Stephanie Grant

Jan 13, 2013, 10:47 pm

That's good to hear. I have had that book for a while and I'm still putting it off for some rason. Your comments make me think I should read it sooner rather than later.

Jan 14, 2013, 1:53 am

judylou, it was a quick and easy read as well. It was so interesting going into the mind of a deaf mute. I found it much easier to go there than say into the mind of someone who is blind. Could one bear that? Not to be able to read. Of course this young man could only read a couple of words, names to be precise. But I think you might enjoy it.

Editado: Fev 1, 2013, 10:49 pm

The Passion of Alice by Stephanie Grant: for Orange January & Book Bingo

The Passion of Alice could be an important little book if you or a loved one suffers from an eating disorder. The protagonist, Alice, a 25 year old suffers from anorexia which her separated parents do not realize. They know but can't admit it until one day she suffers a heart attack. Then along with her doctors, they & she agree that she needs acute care and she goes into a rehab facility that works with addicts, alcoholics, persons with all types of disorders. They are separated by 'disease'.
Alice weighs just over 90 pounds and is 5 ft, 10 & 3/4 inches tall. While in the facility she meets girls suffering from bulimia as well as anorexia. She becomes acquaintances with a few of them and they go through their days having meals together, therapy groups together, exercise classes specifically based on their needs,etc. Alice is only allowed to do yoga, stretching, the warm up & cool down parts of the aerobics sessions and she is allowed to swim but not allowed to do laps. Their days are kept very full.
After a time she begins to eat her meals or part of them and eventually she edges over the 100 pound mark. One of her friends, Gwen who has been engaged for 10 years but has not married yet as she and her fiance want to have children. Her menses has stopped (as it does with most anorexics) and her fiance wants her to be stable before they wed. Anyway while Alice, Gwen and 2 other girls are taken on a supervised mall shopping trip Gwen collapses when she suffers a dramatic bone disintegration. A few days later she passes. Alice is devastated. She refuses to eat anything and her weight drops dramatically once again. They put her in the hospital there and tube or I.V. feed her. They weigh her in a hammock/sling like get up as they do not want her to know her weight. But the doctors are concerned as one cannot continue indefinitely being fed this way. The body is unable to process all the glucose. They put her on insulin to help her pancreas along. Every six hours they would check her blood and depending on her sugar levels, they would give her shots of insulin.
There is so much more to this small book than just the story of Alice's illness. There is the complicated story of her family life. The complicated story of an early friendship with a young man and the parting of their ways when they went off to Uni. The very complicated stories of her relationships with the other girls and workers at the rehab. One friendship in particular with one specific girl/woman on her floor. I found this friendship to be very fascinating and I can easily see this book becoming a Virago one day.
Written as a memoir I liked it very much and gave it 4 stars. I highly recommend it to those interested in the subject matter. I can see so easily why it ranked so well on the Orange Prize listing.

Next up: The Butterfly's Daughter by Mary Alice Monroe and am nearly half way through it. It's a nice read, rather cozy & comfy.

Jan 14, 2013, 5:46 pm

Sounds like a gruelling read.

Good luck with Island of Wings. I really, really didn't like it at all!!

Jan 14, 2013, 6:01 pm

Not gruelling at all judylou. It is about a 3 hour read as well, quite short.
I am hoping to appreciate Island of Wings. It does sound very dark and I was thinking that The Passion of Alice would be but didn't find it so. I'm sorry you didn't like 'I of W'. Hope what you are reading now fares better.

Editado: Jan 21, 2013, 12:17 am

The Butterfly's Daughter by Mary Alice Monroe

Definitely chick lit, this is a nice little story of Hispanic people who are so immersed in the life of the Monarch Butterfly that it is actually a part of their culture.

"We delight in the beauty of the butterfly but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty." --Maya Angelou

They plant their gardens to attract the butterfly, gather their eggs and in aquariums, they watch the metamorphosis process. Then when the monarchs are ready they release them. It is a beautiful process and the grandmother teaches all of the neighborhood children these things.

"In all the world, no butterflies migrate like the monarchs of North America. Their migration is more the type we expect from birds or whales. However, unlike birds and whales that make the round-trip, it is the monarch's great-great-grandchildren that return south the following fall."

Luz, a 21 year old who has been raised by her maternal grandmother is unknowingly ready for change. She and her 'Abuela' live in a Northern state and her grandma plans a trip for the two of them to go to Mexico to join the rest of the family for the celebration of The Day of The Dead. She purchases a little rusty orange V.W. bug, brings out what money she has saved for the trip and prepares herself and her young granddaughter to make the journey. But sadness strikes the household the day before the journey is to begin. Abuela passes away during the night.
Luz is devastated but after the cremation decides to make the journey anyway to honor her Abuela and begins the trip. The little bug breaks down a couple of hours away from home and takes several days to wait for the part and be fixed. While she waits, Luz finds a temp job waiting tables at a Mexican restaurant where a very pregnant girl, Ophelia, works. Ophelia's boyfriend likes to get drunk and beat his girlfriend and when the car is ready she begs to be taken along. So the two girls continue on their trip.

"Texas is the funnel through which most migrating monarchs must pass on their way to their overwintering grounds in Mexico. Texas is also the first stop on their northward journey, when they seek out both nectar and host plants for eggs for the next generation. Thus, Texas is of critical importance in the migration of the monarch butterfly."

At a nursery where Ophelia, as a girl, worked alongside her aunt, they stop so that she can go to be with her aunt. Finding out that her aunt has remarried and moved away, the owner of the nursery who remembers Ophelia offers to let her stay and to see to her through the pregnancy and birth. Margaret, who works in the nursery office and at first appears to be a boring prude, ends up coming with Luz. Luz soon realizes that the girl has a background in natural history and wants to study the migration of the Monarch Butterfly. So off they go.
The story gets better and more interesting as the journey continues. Luz gets to meet her huge maternal family and find out about her mother. She gets to travel and hike up to where millions of the Monarchs migrate to each and every year and have for eons.

"Female monarchs are capable of producing and laying more than five hundred eggs in a lifetime. The egg's expected survival rate is as low as 1 percent, which would mean only five of the five hundred eggs survive to become a butterfly."

I liked this story. Not a great deal of depth to it but a very nice story nonetheless. And the material on the monarch butterfly is fascinating. I recommend it for a nice light read, for those interested in the monarch butterfly and it's migration and gave it 2 1/2 stars.

Next up: Some Tame Gazelle by Barbara Pym

Editado: Jan 21, 2013, 10:46 pm

Some Tame Gazelle by Barbara Pym

"Some tame gazelle, or some gentle dove:
Something to love, oh, something to love!

Quoted from page 17 of my edition of Some Tame Gazelle.

I would call this a little comfy, cozy book and in the proper place and time I certainly do enjoy them as I did this one.
The spinster sisters Harriet and Belinda live in a small village where it does seem that everyone knows everyone. Their world revolves around their churches, church life and especially the curates, archdeacons, and bishops. Harriet is much enraptured by the local curate whomever it may be at the time while Belinda is much more good works oriented.
They, each one, had/have their chance at marriage but choose to remain spinsters sharing a home with a day girl as help. They are very comfortable in their lives in the gossipy little village deciding what to have for tea and dinner each day and when to invite the curate for tea or dinner.
This is a little book in which not much of anything happens. Oh there is a wedding and a church garden party, etc. But we, for the most part, end up back where we began. In the little comfy, cozy home of the spinster sisters awaiting the next bit of gossip or the new curate coming for Sunday dinner.
I quite liked the characters of this little book, excepting that of the archdeacon. I found him to be pompous, enamored with himself, rather cold and hurtful, but he did have a rightful place in the story. Had it not been for this character so many of the bits would not have been in place nor fallen into place.
I enjoyed this read, recommend it for one in need of a comfy, cozy, easy read. You will enjoy it with a nice cup of tea. I rated it 3 1/2 stars.

Next up: Henry and Cato by Iris Murdoch

Jan 22, 2013, 1:47 am

I don't think I have ever read anything by Pym. Perhaps I should. Her books do sound rather lovely.

Jan 22, 2013, 2:29 am

Oh, you should! She is quite delightful.

Jan 22, 2013, 11:21 am

Ditto that wookie & judy.

Jan 26, 2013, 9:32 pm

Sorry by Gail Jones is a beautifully written novel about horrific events that take place within a totally dysfunctional family in the 1930s Australian outback. Perdita, our protagonist, is a young girl whose father is distant and seemingly uncaring with a streak of cruelty. Her mother, Stella, seems unable to relate on any emotional level and suffers also from a mental disability. During those bleak times when Stella is drawn inside herself she lives within the world of Shakespeare's works, from which she continuously quotes complete passages, entire sonnets, and even names their daughter after one of his characters.
Perdita's father is killed during the very first part of the book. Throughout the remainder, we watch Stella, Perdita, Mary, (the Aboriginal help girl), & Billy (the deaf mute neighboring boy who has befriended Perdita and Mary), as they cope with what is left of a sad and dreary life. However dreary life in the household is, the three children, Mary, Billy & Perdita are content & even happy while playing outdoors and spending time together.
Mary confesses to the killing of Perdita's father and is sent away to a reformatory until she is twenty when she will be moved to a women's prison. Perdita is so lonely without her friend whom she has slept side by side with since Mary came to be with them. She and Billy must learn to be a friendship of two rather than of three.
Then comes the deep depression of Stella where she cannot perform the most menial tasks, keep herself clean or speak other than to quote from the Bard. She is taken to hospital and Perdita must go and live at the convent for a time and attend school. Perdita has developed a deep stutter and rarely speaks because of the way people react to her when she attempts to talk.

"In the life of every child there are times in which the symbolic gains more weight and magnitude, when childish things, and their comforts, are put away, and there form the intuitions and understandings that ground the later adult. These are known only in retrospect, just as the gist of any tragedy is apparent only at its conclusion. The meaning of one's parents-the remote father, the unstable mother-is likewise discovered when they cease to have authority over us, in death, or in the mind's demented retreat, or in the distances we manage to create as adults. But at seven, or eight, or nine years old, we may nevertheless glimpse them, sense in a hunch what will later unfold, know in the briefest presentiment their true specificity, and the claims they will have on us. When I saw my mother searching for the cards, disregarding me, and the busted house, and the storm-wrack all around, when I guessed she was acting out Lear, tormented, believing herself infirm, weak and despised, I realised in a wave of pity that I was stronger than she and would be called upon some day to act my part and protect her. Her wet hair hung in rats' tails beside her face, her thin cotton dress was spattered with red mud, she was bedraggled and lost. And she was searching in desperation, as if she had misplaced her own heart."

"There are forms of loneliness children endure that adults have no inkling of: stern seclusions, lives of quiet desperation. Now that her childhood was a spoiled thing, compounded by an inefficient tongue and garbled speech, Perdita entered the dreary territory of the truly alone."

"What remains is broken as my speech once was. But I see now what my tongue-tied misery could not: the shape that affections make, the patterns that love upholds in the face of any shattering. It is not sentimentality that drives me to claim this, but the need-more explicitly self-serving, perhaps--to imagine something venerable and illustrious beneath such waste."

Such beauty here. There is so much within the covers of this book. So much to take in and to assimilate. Although I know that those readers who had an upbringing similar to mine probably related to parts of this story much better that they would have liked.
I loved this book, thought it beautifully written and though many of the characters had just little bits in the book, I found myself drawn to them as well as to Perdita, Mary & Billy. I understood Perdita's parents only too well but was unsympathetic to either of them. I am sorry that I have completed this book, for I would like to begin it again with fresh eyes and I envy those who will come to it for the first time. I very highly recommend it and rated it 5+ stars.

Next up: The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

Jan 28, 2013, 5:42 pm

Hi Belva, found you : ). Thanks for your return comment. I loved The Song of Achilles and hope you will, too.

Jan 28, 2013, 8:07 pm

Hi back Nancy. I am enjoying 'Achilles' a great deal. Will probably finish it tonight just in time to finish my Murdoch. Thank you for popping over.

Editado: Fev 1, 2013, 10:46 pm

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller: for Orange January & Book Bingo

The Song of Achilles is one that I had put off reading for some time. I am very weak in the Greek mythologies and tragedies so I feared it would be over my head. However I was only into the book by sentences when I became so taken with it that I could hardly stir from it and read it in less than 2 days.
It is the retelling of the story of Achilles, son of a kindly Greek King and a sea goddess who hates and despises mortals. The story's protagonist, Achilles childhood & forever friend Patroclus, is the teller of our tale and tells it beautifully. He is also the son of a Greek King but at the age of 9 or 10 he accidentally kills another boy and must be put to death or exiled. His father chooses to send him into exile and sends him to the father of Achilles. There he is treated kindly by Achilles father and ignored by the other exiled boys who live there. Over time Achilles becomes interested in Patroclus and requests of his father that Patroclus be allowed to become his companion. From that time forth the two are inseparable.
As the boys grow Achilles comes to fulfill the prophecy that he will be the best and most famous warrior of all time. Patroclus does not have the gift of a warrior but learns healing methods and doctoring. When the boys are grown, comes the Trojan War. And while Achilles does not want to go, all of the able Greek kings & sons are bound by oath to fight for and support the husband of Helen (of Troy) and he feels bound to go also. Patroclus accompanies him on this 10 year battle.

At one point during their sail to Troy, Odysseus questions Lycomedes about his wife the Lady Penelope, cousin to Lady Helen, and Odysseus tells him that:
"in the course of our conversation, when it became clear that the Lady Penelope favored me--"
"Not for your looks, certainly," Diomedes commented.
"Certainly not," Odysseus agreed. "She asked me what wedding present I would make to my bride. A wedding bed, I said, rather gallantly, of finest holm-oak. But this answer did not please her. 'A wedding bed should not be made of dead, dry wood, but something green and living,' she told me. 'And what if I can make such a bed?' I said. 'Will you have me?' And she said---'
The king of Argos made a noise of disgust. "I'm sick to death of this tale about your marriage bed."
"Then perhaps you shouldn't have suggested I tell it."
"And perhaps you should get some new stories, so I don't fucking kill myself of boredom."

Another time aboard the ship:
"The kings were inclined to talk and lingered by the rail with us. They passed stories back and forth: of other sea voyages, of wars, of contests won in games long past. Achilles was an eager audience, with question after question.
"Where did you get this?" He was pointing to the scar on Odysseus' leg.
"Ah," Odysseus rubbed his hands together. "That is a tale worth telling. Though I should speak to the captain first." He gestured to the sun, hanging ripe and low over the horizon. "We'll need to stop soon for camp."
"I'll go." Diomedes stood from where he leaned against the rail. "I've heard this one almost as many times as that sickening bed story."
"Your loss," Odysseus called after him. "Don't mind him. His wife's a hellhound bitch, and that would sour anyone's temper. Now, my wife--"
"I swear." Diomedes' voice carried back up the length of the ship. "If you finish that sentence, I will throw you over the side and you can swim to Troy."
"See?" Odysseus shook his head. "Sour."

Funny stuff and I found myself laughing aloud several times during this read as well as weeping.

There came a time just before the battle of Troy ended that Achilles finds it within himself that he could no longer fight under King Agamemnon, the head general of all of the Kings' warriors. The battle of Troy rages on without Achilles and many warriors of the Greek armies fall daily, unlike before when most had returned to tell of the day's battle.

I won't go on with the story but to say that the moments within the story can change dramatically and the reader's emotions along with those changes. There are some lovely, sweet passages within the book as well as some moments that are very harsh.
I liked this book very much and yearn to pick up another like it. To think that this is the author's first novel is amazing even given the fact that she has a bachelor's and master's in Latin and Ancient Greek. I highly recommend it and gave it 4 1/2 stars.

Editado: Fev 1, 2013, 10:45 pm

Julie and Julia by Julie Powell: for Book Bingo

I laughed (and belly laughed at times) my way through this book. I thoroughly enjoyed all of the mis-steps of Julia Child's recipes by Julie. And the amazing successes also. I do not think that I could eat a fraction of these recipes. There is a lot of internal organs being cooked in this book. And I often wondered how Julie afforded all of the components of these recipes what with having to make some of them two and three times.
The story is of Julie taking one year of her life and cooking every single recipe of Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking. It was an amazing undertaking. She and her husband Eric, had many friends to come to dinner and help eat the concoctions. Most of them were enjoyed with only a few being yucked.
I liked the book a great deal and enjoyed all of the characters. Julie's husband is a saint. I highly recommend this read for the simple enjoyment of it and I rated it 4 out of 5 stars.

Editado: Fev 1, 2013, 10:45 pm

The Snow Owl by Jon Hartling; for Book Bingo

The Snow Owl is a lovely little fairy tale fantasy. It is about a young couple who differ in that she loves all things wintery while he hates to be cold and he loves all things summery while she hates the heat. So they decide that in the Spring and Fall they will take trips and do fun things outdoors together while in the Summer and Winter they will vacation and so outdoor activities on their own or with like minded friends.
After the wife comes back from a skiing vacation, they excitedly find out that she is pregnant. Sadly she dies during childbirth asking her husband to forgive her. When husband and now father sees the child he is shocked for while he and his wife were dark complected with dark hair and eyes, this baby is fair, blond & blue eyed.
The child is named Eric and not surprisingly to this reader, as he grows up he loves the winter weather, the snow and all things of the cold. When he is about 10 years of age there is a great snowfall and Eric builds a huge snowman. When his father compliments him on it, the boy tells him that it is not a snowman but a snow owl. Each day the sculpture takes on more of the look of the snow owl. The boy has been seeing owls at night in the trees at the edge of the property and the father decides to sit up one night and watch for them. In the midst of the night they come, four of them. And as the father watches, they fly around the snow owl sculpture and with their talons and wings work to make it more lifelike.
To tell you more of the story would be to spoil it for anyone who wishes to read this slim little book. I really enjoyed it for what it was, recommend it and gave it 3 stars.

Editado: Fev 1, 2013, 10:44 pm

Water Tales by Alice Hoffman: for Book Bingo

Two very enjoyable little 'tales', Aquamarine and Indigo, about the underwater life of sea persons. I found them both to be engaging and liked both of them very much.
I gave this little sea gem a rating of 3 stars.

Editado: Maio 31, 2013, 12:10 pm

Evangeline: A Tale of Acadia by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow: for Book Bingo

The beautiful, lyrical poem about the Acadians after the discovery of America.
One of the most beautiful openings in the history of literature:

"This is the forest primeval. The murmuring pines and the hemlocks,
Bearded with moss, and in garments green, indistinct in the twilight,
Stand like Druids of eld, with voices sad and prophetic,
Stand like harpers hoar, with beards that rest on their bosoms.
Loud from its rocky caverns, the deep-voiced neighboring ocean
Speaks, and in the accents disconsolate answers the wail of the forest."

I am certain that many of us here on LT know those words by memory.

"Evangeline is just a beautiful, lovely poem a little over 100 pages long about love and loss; the searching and finding of it again only to realize it is too late.

My copy has been handed down within the family and is a very delicate April, 1908 copy. It was copyrighted in 1900. One of the greatest treasures in my bookcases.

I read this for the first time in fifth grade and have never forgotten it. I very highly recommended "Evangeline" for anyone who loves poetry and beautifully written prose. I gave it a 5 star rating.

Editado: Fev 28, 2013, 12:00 am

Shopgirl by Steve Martin for Book Bingo:

I really liked this teeny tiny little book about a 'shopgirl' dating an older man. I like how Martin writes. 4*

Editado: Mar 5, 2013, 11:46 am

House of Silence by Linda Gillard:

All of the reviews I read for this book seemed to be positive but it simply wasn't for me. I found the writing to be juvenile, the plot to be boring and the book to be same-o, same-o as others of it's type. I found it to be a complete waste of time. It should have remained silent.
I can't recommend it and I gave it a 1/2 star rating.

Fev 2, 2013, 7:10 pm

Hope your next one is better :-)

Fev 2, 2013, 8:59 pm

I know it will be Judy. I was bummed because everyone else, even the guys who had read it seemed to like it. Ah well. I know the one I just began will be fantabulous! The Children's Book by A.S. Byatt. And I am in love with the cover art on this one. Surely a book as beautiful as this must be good. Thanks for popping over.

Fev 3, 2013, 5:58 am

I'll be interested to see what you think of the Byatt.

Fev 3, 2013, 6:22 am

Some great reading! Glad you loved Sorry and The Song of Achilles too!

Fev 6, 2013, 11:57 am

Reading The Song of Achilles led me to purchasing The Penelopiad and a book to help with understanding the Greek classics. I know I will need help in reading The Illiad and The Odessy and I really want to dive right into The Illiad. It is exciting when you find that you actually have a love for something you have feared all of your life, as in reading these classics.

Editado: Fev 13, 2013, 5:55 pm

I finally completed Henry and Cato and I quite appreciated the read. I find Iris Murdoch's writing to be rather mesmerizing and hated to put it down but my eyes bothered me terribly with the tiny print in the Penguin mass market edition I have and I would get to where I simply couldn't distinguish the letters.
She grows her characters very cleverly and very well. She is fairly descriptive about places as well as people and she showed quite a sense of humor in this story although there were some pretty intense situations throughout.
Also she takes you in one direction and you think you have figured out where she is taking you and BAM! That wasn't it at all. Not even close.
Lucy, in the A Severed Head thread, (that almost rhymes), used this quote from that book: "In almost every marriage there is a selfish and an unselfish partner. A pattern is set up and soon becomes inflexible, of one person always making the demands and one person always giving way." I don't recall that Murdoch used the same words precisely in Henry and Cato but the same meaning was definitely there and I will be curious as I continue to read her this year if this is a common thread throughout her works.
I also found it very interesting that this book ends with exactly the same words it begins with and it suits both covers of the book quite well. "... in it's case, heavy and awkward inside his mackintosh pocket, banged irregularly against his thigh at each step." Quite interesting, that. And I don't believe I have come across it before.
I hope to put up a review soon.

Next up: My lovely nemesis, Angela Carter's The Magic Toyshop, a lovely treat from my Secret Santa over in the Virago group.

Fev 13, 2013, 5:57 pm

Henry and Cato by Iris Murdoch

Henry and Cato grew up childhood friends outside of London. Henry was raised with the silver spoon in his mouth, so to speak, for his family owned a manor with all that goes along with it. Even so his parents looked down on him as not being the perfect offspring which they thought his older brother Sandy to be. He grew up to go to University, get his teaching degree, moved to a small midwestern town in the U.S. and taught school there. Henry's father died and his mother Gerda, a very strong woman, is left with Sandy whom she idolized.
Cato, raised by his father along with his sister Colette, their mother being deceased, was rather looked down upon by his father as well. For Cato believed in God where his father John, though raised a Quaker & still attended Meeting, did not. Cato grew up to go into the priesthood and then became truly despised by his father. His mission work took him into the very pits of London. There he met not a lot of people of God but a lot of people who needed God and who needed his help. One in particular, a young man who went by Beautiful Joe, became so dependent upon Cato that he felt as if he was unable to function without the priest.
Henry, while in the U.S. was notified that Sandy had been killed in an auto accident and it was necessary for him to return 'to the manor born'. For in Sandy's will he had left everything, the manor and all of it's properties and monies to Henry. All of this made Gerda despise her remaining son even more for she wished that it had been Henry to die rather than Sandy. When Henry returned he and Cato came back into each others lives.
Henry is probably the most flat character of the story. The others are much more rounded. Murdoch grows her characters very cleverly and gives the reader a chance to watch them grow as well. She is fairly descriptive about places as well as the people in the book and she shows quite a sense of humor although there were some pretty intense situations throughout.
This story, I found quite fascinating in many areas. It is a story of love and obsession as well as a story of love and possession. It is a story of sweet love, compassion and contempt, kidnapping and killing. Murdoch takes you in one direction and you think you have figured out where she is taking you and BAM! That wasn't it at all. Not even close.

Sibyx, in the The Severed Head thread, used this quote from that book:

"In almost every marriage there is a selfish and an unselfish partner. A pattern is set up and soon becomes inflexible, of one person always making the demands and one person always giving way."

I don't know that Murdoch used the same words precisely in Henry and Cato but the same exact meaning was there. I will be curious, as I continue to read her throughout the year, if this is a common thread within her works.
I also found it very interesting that this book ends with exactly the same words it begins with and it suits both covers of the book quite well.

"... in it's case, heavy and awkward inside his mackintosh pocket, banged irregularly against his thigh at each step."

Quite interesting, that. I don't believe I have come across it before. I highly recommend this book to anyone who likes a read that is a bit different, to any who appreciate Murdoch and to those who desire to read her. I think it was a good one to cut my teeth on. I rated it a 4 star read.

Editado: Mar 5, 2013, 12:03 pm

In memory of englishrose60, a lovely lady who spent much time with our little Virago group I have read from her library:

All God's Children Need Traveling Shoes by Maya Angelou. This was a reread for me but I certainly did not enjoy it any the less for that.

Maya Angelou has 6 volumes of her autobiography books out and this is #5.
All God's Children Need Travelling Shoes is a very well written piece, as are all of her works. It is informative, colorful, interesting, full of bigger than life characters and small events that color the book and seem large.
She wrote this volume about her time in Ghana, when she "wanted to go home" to Africa. It is rich in detail, rich in friendships, and I love her descriptive phrasing in this book.
She took her 17 year old son and moved to Ghana planning to stay. It didn't turn out that way but the story of her stay there is very interesting and I enjoyed this work of hers very much. It helped me to understand the woman she has become. However, I would probably only recommend it to loyal fans of Angelou. I rated it 4*.

(Thank you Valerie for all that you brought to Library Thing. You are missed.)

Fev 15, 2013, 6:18 pm

The Magic Toyshop has become creepy, brilliant, obsessive reading which is at times throwing a fright at me. I am enjoying it/appreciating it but am anxious to reach the end for the sake of my nerves.

Editado: Fev 27, 2013, 11:47 pm

The Magic Toyshop by Angela Carter
My God! This ended too soon. My heart is beating so hard for Victoria, Jonathon, Aunt Margaret, Francie & even the dog.
I should have begun reading Angela Carter with this book and not The Passion of New Eve and Shadow Dance. This book is absolutely brilliant!
Melanie, Jonathaon & Victoria are the children of a journalist/writer who travels in his work and his wife, their mother, travels with him. So they are raised in a lovely home in the country with Mrs. Rundle, their housekeeper who loves them and takes such good care of them.
When Melanie is 15, there is a plane crash and both parents are killed and although their father makes a very good living, he has put no money aside for emergency's sake. So the children must go and live with their mother's brother, Uncle Philip, near London, whom they do not know. He is married to Aunt Margaret who has not been able to speak since the night she married him and with them live her two brothers, Francie and Finn.
This family lives so differently that although Victoria and Jonathon adjust well enough the older Melanie has a very tough time of it. The house is bare and dirty. The Aunt is given no money for housekeeping. She must charge everything at the shopkeepers and the Uncle pays them monthly. He is a toymaker and puppeteer and is very good at his craft. But he is a small minded man, mean and evil with his family. All fear him. The only time any of them are relaxed is when he is away from home.
Melanie helps her Aunt Margaret run the toyshop and there they work from morn til night. Finn helps his uncle in the workshop to make the toys and puppets by painting them and every so often they put on a puppet show for the family. These are very stressful occasions and the family must wear their best clothing and clean up for the show when on a normal day they are unkempt, dirty and wear slovenly clothing. Uncle Philip wants them to think he is wonderfully talented with his puppeteering, which he is. So they applaud him madly. Finn helps with the puppet shows and is beaten and half killed for his efforts if he makes the smallest of mistakes.
The other brother, Francie, earns money by going out to doings and playing the fiddle.
This is a hauntingly beautifully written novel. I wish I had read it yonks ago. There is nothing happy about the book other than the very beginning when the children are happily ensconced in their parental home before the tragedy strikes. I was on tenterhooks throughout the last 2/3 of the book. I can't say that I enjoyed it but I did appreciate it, was totally enthralled by and am very glad that I read it. It was a truly magical, though not in a good way, read. I rated it 4 1/2 stars and guardedly recommend it. I am shocked at my reaction to The Magic Toyshop by Angela Carter.

Next up: The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold for my February Orange Challenge and I just hope that it is half as good as her Lucky: A Memoir.

Fev 17, 2013, 2:40 am

I like your comments on The Magic Toyshop. I have been thinking about reading it for ages. I should get a copy soon.

Fev 17, 2013, 3:46 am

I was amazed at how much I was taken by this book judylou as I have not been an Angela Carter fan. I may have to give her more of a chance after reading this one. I didn't want it to end, especially at the point that it did.

Fev 17, 2013, 5:41 am

rainpebble The magic Toyshop sounds great, I have Angela Carter's The Infernal Desire Machines of Doctor Hoffman on the shelf so you have inspired me to read it soon !
Hope you enjoy The Lovely Bones,I thought it was a great read.

Fev 17, 2013, 12:08 pm

Oh Bryan, it is a lovely read so far. Nothing like I thought it would be. I am really enjoying it. Thank you for the encouragement.

Fev 17, 2013, 2:11 pm

englishrose60 used to spend some time hereabouts in the 100 books challenge group, too, and was one of my favorite commenters until she stopped posting after she got sick.

Editado: Mar 5, 2013, 11:59 am

Hello Jennifer. I miss her comments so. She was such a sweet and lovely lady. It is lovely to remember those people that we had a heart connection with, isn't it? She is actually one of the reasons that I moved over to this group. I love the calmness here within the group compared to some of the others.
I hope that all is going well in you & Mr. Dr.'s lives. Ours is yet very busy but we did get the hubby retired and I am enjoying that. Are you enjoying your work after all of the schooling? I hope so.
Thank you so much for popping over. I will have to come over and see what you are reading this year.

Fev 22, 2013, 6:38 am

Great comments on The Magic Toyshop! I liked her Nights at the Circus, I'll definitely have to check this one out.

I'm sorry to hear about englishrose60, she will be missed.

Editado: Fev 23, 2013, 11:23 am

Definitely wookie.
I will have to be giving Angela Carter another try myself.

Editado: Maio 31, 2013, 12:24 pm

A Woman of Jerusalem by Elsie Mack

Most people believe that the New Testament story of the forgiven adulteress referred to Mary Magdalene when actually she was never named and only appeared in a lone account of the episode. In Mack's work, she is called Tamar and is an aristocratic Jewess who broke the codes of her family and her religion by falling in love with a Roman officer. Felix, the young officer, was equally torn by opposing loyalties: by Pontius Pilate's order he was forced to plot secretly against Tamar's Jewish people.

A Woman of Jerusalem captures the atmosphere of Jerusalem as it becomes filled with a hostile environment and intrigue. Romans and Jews are bound in bitter enmity, Jews are divided one from another and slavery adds it's tones of vengeance & violence. Setting sparks flying and confusion abounding is the message of love and forgiveness preached by the stranger some call the Messiah.
Tamar and Felix battle with their passion and love for one another, Simeon, Tamar's brother ignores the laws of his religion to lust after the pagan Salome and there is the suspicion of the strange prophet Jesus.

"And again He stooped down, and wrote on the ground. And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee? She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go and sin no more."

--John 8/8-11

I loved this book. I know that it is not easy to find now but if one can, it is well worth the read. I recommend it and give it a rating of 3 1/2 *.

Editado: Mar 5, 2013, 11:30 am

laytonwoman3rd's meme:

Answer the questions about yourself using titles from books you read last year. (Links to your own thread appreciated if you do this.)

Describe yourself: Property
Describe how you feel: Sad Cypress
Describe where you currently live: Forgotten Country
If you could go anywhere, where would you go? Running the Rift
Your favorite form of transportation: A Walk to Remember
Your best friend is: Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont
You and your friends are: Living, Loving and Lying Awake at Night
What's the Weather Like: Starlight
You fear: The Twisted Heart
What is the best advice you have to give? We Need to Talk About Kevin
Thought for the Day: Birds of a Feather
How I would like to die: The Weight of Water
My Soul's Present Condition: Black and Blue

Editado: Mar 2, 2013, 3:33 am

I love these things. I'm in here!

Mar 2, 2013, 6:59 am

I am reading State of Wonder for some months now.

Mar 2, 2013, 11:46 pm

Oh I loved State of Wonder. I envy anyone reading it for the first time.

Something Special by Iris Murdoch

In this short novella Yvonne lives with her mother and her uncle, she and her mum sharing one room and her uncle having the other. She isn't a young thing and her family is constantly at her about marrying. There is a young man who wishes to marry her but she is not drawn to him. However there is not much to do and so she regularly goes out walking with him. Rather a downtrodden tale, I still found it very interesting and unable to put down until I had completed it. It's very short so it took no time at all. I, still a babe in the woods when it comes to Murdoch, go down the garden path with her thinking that I know where I am going and again, BAM!, you aren't there anymore and possibly never were. She fascinates me. I recommend this novella and rated it 3 1/2 stars.

Mar 5, 2013, 12:08 pm

And a couple that I missed.........hate when I do that. ;-)

The Sealed Letter by Emma Donoghue

This is a story about a woman suffragist who is sucked into an old friend's unhappy marriage and trysts. The effect that it has on her life is certainly not her desire.
I found the courtroom drama in The Sealed Letter to be fascinating. It was so interesting to see how things were done years ago. And the Author's Note was very 'notable'. So much info gathered into so few pages, I hadn't realized that the book was based on an actual lifetime event and within the Author's Note I found several books that I will be checking my library for. Other than that it was rather meh.
Some quotes:

"She goes up to bed, and sits reading The Small House at Allingham to bore herself to sleep." hmmm

"The knack will be, to it without saying it; anything wxplicit could rebound in our faces," the barrister goes on. "Admiral, are you by any chance familiar with the story of The Purloined Letter?"

"Four years after testifying in the trial, Fido mulled over her experiences with Helen Codrington, more in sorrow than in anger, in a bestselling novel called Change upon Change. The persona she adopts is that of a sober man called Wilfred, helplessly devoted and secretly engaged to his flighty cousin Tiny. "Women have so many natures," he concludes wistfully; "I think she loved me well with one." In the preface to the American edition of 1873 (renamed "A Reed Shaken in the Wind"), Fido admitted."

My main problem with the book was that I could not come to relate to or care about any of the characters, not even Fido, the main character. I did not dislike the book and I am glad that I read it. I liked it well enough to give it 2 1/2 stars.

Mar 5, 2013, 12:11 pm

Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson

Ruth and Lucille grew up with their grandmother after their mother drove her car into the same lake that their grandfather's train derailed and sank into years earlier. When grandmother passed away two great aunties were called in to raise the girls. This didn't work out too well as they were not used to children and both the girls and their great aunties were uncomfortable together. So now an aunt (their dead mother's sister) is mustered in.
Aunt Sylvie is a bit of a strange duck and for the better part of the book we don't know why. She doesn't say much, she hoards tin cans, magazines and papers; she likes to be in the dark, she sleeps flat on her back with her shoes on, etc.
The first half of the book was a fairly cozy, comfy read. The second half is quite a bit darker. The closeness of the sisters begins to erode and discomforting activities begin to occur with the girls and with the auntie.
All in all, I give this one fair marks. It held my interest and I cared about the characters to a degree, but never became immersed in their lives. It was good enough that I will look for more of her work and had I been able to connect with the characters it would have garnered a higher mark. I rated it 3 1/2 stars.

Editado: Mar 5, 2013, 12:20 pm

The Lost Garden by Helen Humphreys

Any book that quotes or discusses Virginia Woolf is a book for me.
I loved this little book. I loved the storyline, I loved the writing, I loved the emotions that ran through me as I read this slim novel.
The story takes place in 1941 Britain as the war seems to be going on endlessly. Young ladies from London including our protagonist Gwen, a horticulturist, volunteer for The Women's Land Army. That is to say they go out to work the farms which the men have left to go and fight in the war. Gwen is put in charge of these young ladies at this particular estate. They live in a cottage outbuilding near the barn, chicken coop and the gardens. In the main house are soldiers billeted awaiting their call to war.
While on the train to the countryside Gwen sees in the paper a small article reading:

"We announce with regret that it must now be presumed that Mrs. Leonard Woolf (Virginia Woolf, the novelist and essayist), who has been missing since last Friday, has been drowned in the Sussex Ouse at Rodmell, near Lewes."

Gwen finds this very disturbing as she, for the past 7 years, has been writing letters in her head to Virginia Woolf. Never putting them down on paper & sending them for they are never perfect enough to actually send, but continually writing them in her head. For you see, 7 years ago Gwen is all but certain that she followed Woolf through the streets of London. But she doesn't know for sure and now she will never know for sure. Reading this lovely little book, this one letter in particular caught my eye.

"Dear Mrs. Woolf.
Of your books, I must say that I like To the Lighthouse best of all. It is a perfect garden. The right mix or order and chaos. I admire (No) I love how the lighthouse, always in the background of the story, is to some extent Mrs. Ramsay herself. How the strokes of light are part of the emotional rhythm of Mrs. Ramsay.
I would say (No) Is it true, perhaps, that this book is really about the haunting of memory? This is also what makes it a perfect garden because that's what flowers are sometimes to us, ghosts.
Did you once walk through Tavistock Square, seven years ago now, in June? This is what haunts me. And now that you are lost. (No) Now that you've gone missing, I might never know your answer.
I liked in To the Lighthouse that the big questions Mr. Ramsey asked, about art and civilization, were directed to the escallonia hedge.
But I am thinking now of Tavistock Square, of London. I cannot go on with this letter in my head, this endless letter I go on thinking up and never actually send. And why do I continue to do this when the person to whom I would send it is perhaps not even still living? Habit? Need? Because it links me to that night in June seven years ago, when there was no war, when all the buildings were still in place on my particular route through the city. How I would link London up for myself as a series of green squares on the way to the river. Sunlight on grass. The white stone of the city churches against the night sky. Like bones, I could say they were like bones. I could say the city was a body I pressed to mine. The fine hair of the tall grasses in Highgate Cemetery. The smell of the river. That world as it was, that I will never inhabit again."

All of the relationships within this story are very interesting. Gwen becomes friends with Raley, the soldier in charge at the manor house. Jane, whose boyfriend is missing in action, becomes friends with David who is constantly knitting jumpers (sweaters) for his girlfriend at home. But the most fascinating relationship of all (aside from the mental/emotional one with Woolf), is the relationship that Gwen develops with a hidden garden that she finds deep within the trees on the estate. She keeps this garden secret from the others as she cares for it.

I must thank Cariola for this lovely book that she included in my V.S.S. Christmas parcel for Christmas of 2011. I enjoyed the read so very much. I highly recommend it and rated it 4 out of 5 stars. I only wish it had been longer and cannot wait to read another by Helen Humphreys. Her writing is marv.

Mar 5, 2013, 1:07 pm

The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

"Inside the snow globe on my father's desk, there was a penguin wearing a red-and-white-striped scarf. When I was little my father would pull me into his lap and reach for the snow globe. He would turn it over, letting all the snow collect o the top, then quickly invert it. The two of us watched the snow fall gently around the penguin. The penguin was alone in there, I thought, and I worried for him. When I told my father this, he said, "Don't worry, Susie; he has a nice life. He's trapped in a perfect world.""

Thus begins The Lovely Bones. Susie is a young girl of just fourteen years when she is taken, raped, murdered and dismembered. Instincts tell her father who committed this crime against his child whose body is never found. He goes to the police with his suspicions and though they investigate the man they need evidence which they are unable to find.
One would think this a difficult book to read but this reader did not find it so. It is told from the perspective of Susie, the victim, who is in heaven. A heaven such as I, who believe in heaven and hell, have never envisioned. It is rather a casual place and Susie's enjoyments on earth are also her enjoyments in heaven. And Susie can see and hear what is happening on earth, within her families and others, even her murderer. But she doesn't spend all of her time in this way. There are times when those remaining on earth feel the presence of Susie near them.
As Susie tells her story the horror of it does not become negligible but she tells it in a way that one can accept and move around it and remain within the story. Not just the event.
This is the story of how a family deals with and yet cannot deal with the tragic loss of a beloved child. And Sebold tells this tale in a masterful way very different from those you have read on like subject matter.
The climax of the book may not be what you expect, need or desire. But it suits what comes before.
This is my second Sebold read. I am only saddened that there is only one more currently out there to read. I highly recommend The Lovely Bones and rated it 4 stars.

Mar 5, 2013, 3:36 pm

I agree with The Lovely Bones!!

Mar 9, 2013, 12:09 pm

Am currently reading Barbara Pym's Jane and Prudence and still with Anne Bronte's The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. That one is taking some time. A rather slogging read yet this reader is curious to see where it all ends.

Editado: Mar 12, 2013, 4:35 pm

I have completed the lovely Jane and Prudence, reviews to follow for this one and also for The Children's Book. I have now moved on to Iris Murdoch: A Life. It is seeming to be very good. Still working on The Tenant of Wildfell Hall and because I just need a mind numbing read right now I am also beginning At Home in Mitford by Jan Karon and an ARC/ER, Hens and Chickens.

Mar 12, 2013, 9:07 pm

I also liked The Lovely Bones a lot. I will have to get a copy of Housekeeping. It sounds like my kind of book.

Mar 13, 2013, 3:23 am

I really like to read Marilynne Robinson. I have read three of hers thus far and not a dud in the bunch. Too bad she doesn't have anything else out.
I loved the way the author narrated The Lovely Bones. It made a horrendously sad story something manageable. If it had been told any other way, I don't know that I could have stuck it. Sad that Sebold has only one other besides her memoir and a book of shorts that she edited. She's a good writer.

Mar 13, 2013, 10:37 am

Yes, I completely agree about Marilynne Robinson. I've started in on some of her nonfiction, which is also fantastic.

Mar 13, 2013, 2:07 pm

Now I've not yet read any of her nonfiction which I must try. Thanks for the rec Jennifer.

Mar 13, 2013, 4:34 pm

Okay folks, the Long List for what used to be the Orange Prize has been announced as of midnight, and I have placed all of the ones available (in the U.S.) in print on hold at my library so once they begin rolling in I will be all over them and most everything else will go by the wayside. That's just how I roll; just like the Orange! Can't wait to get started on them!

Mar 13, 2013, 7:53 pm

I have only read Gilead previously, but will certainly be reading another. I am happy that I have six of the longlist already and have been thinking about reading a few others so hopefully, I'll get to them soon.

Mar 14, 2013, 3:59 am

Hi Belva. I finally got around to reviewing The Colour which you had asked about on the Orange thread. I'd say read it, but it is dark and sometimes plods a bit, but I gave it 4 stars. It will fit into your Orange challenge -and it's also one of those 1001 books . I found it to be quite interesting overall.

Mar 14, 2013, 10:21 am

>108 judylou::
judylou; I loved Gilead. It was a solid 5* read for me. I hope you enjoyed it as well. And WOW!~! You already have 6 of the L/L Oranges? I had none. I don't know how you guys can figure out which ones may be on the list but then I never buy new fiction anyway so I don't check them out at the bookstores. Good on you.

>109 vancouverdeb::
deb; I read your review on The Colour and it sounds like a good read. Thank you for putting that up. It was a good one and makes me think that I will put that one on my list for Orange July. :-) BTW: thumb up!

Mar 14, 2013, 2:12 pm

Last night I began my first of the Orange (Women's Prize) L/L books of 2013 on my Kindle. The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman, a 'new-to-me' author. I'm about halfway through and am really liking the storyline but am afraid something will blow ill in the wind before I have finished it. Hope not but just have that feeling.

Editado: Mar 21, 2013, 3:04 pm

The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman, on the Orange L/L for 2013

I am weeping having just finished this book, one of the longlisted for the Women's Prize. (still Orange Prize to me)

Tom, a Veteran of WWI & guilt ridden that he lived through the war when so many did not, has found that he is unable to cope in the world he has returned to. And so he has put in for a post on lighthouses where he will have solitude to ease his mind and soul. He works several relief 'Lights' before being sent to Janus Rock Lighthouse off Partageuse, Australia. The job requires him to be there 24/7 with supply boats coming out every three months and every three years he will have a leave.

"For the first time he took in the scale of the view. Hundreds of feet above sea level, he was mesmerized by the drop to the ocean crashing against the cliffs directly below. The water sloshed like white paint, milky-thick, the foam occasionally scraped off long enough to reveal a deep blue undercoat. At the other end of the island, a row of immense boulders created a break against the surf and left the water inside it as calm as a bath. He had the impression he was hanging from the sky, not rising from the earth. Very slowly, he turned a full circle, taking in the nothingness of it all. It seemed his lungs could never be large enough to breathe in this much air, his eyes could never see this much space, nor could he hear the full extent of the rolling, roaring ocean. For the briefest moment, he had no edges."

While in Partageuse before heading out to Janus Rock he meets a young lady and they are taken with each other and write back and forth as the supply boats come and go. Within a short time they decide to marry and Isabel joins him out at the lighthouse. She quickly fell in love with the rocky island and all of it's little inlets and coves.
Beginning their family, Tom and Izz were so excited but then to be horribly disappointed when she miscarried the child. The babe was buried up on the high cliff and a rosemary bush was planted at the grave. But they didn't give up and soon Isabel was expecting again. It couldn't happen again but sadly it did. The second babe was buried near the first and another rosemary bush planted.

They went on, Tom lighting the lamp at night and shutting it off in the morn and keeping the lighthouse and all of it's workings sparkling clean and shiny. Isabel gardened, kept a few chickens and kept busy with the house. Then they found that she was pregnant again. Happy and yet frightening news for Isabel mourned her babes so & wanted one so very badly. This little boy babe she carried for much longer but in the end he was stillborn. She raged at God and tore at her hair, she mourned so. Again the infant son was buried beside his two siblings and another rosemary bush was planted. They tried to go back to life as they knew it but this time it was so different and so much more difficult.

Then one day when Isabel was up on the cliffs she thought she heard a baby crying, but surely not. It must be the wind or sea. But then she saw Tom come running out of the Lighthouse and heard him calling for her: A boat, Isabel, a boat! She ran down to him and he helped her as they climbed down the steep path to the sea where there was a small row boat. They could indeed hear a baby crying and could see a man lying in the boat. Tom checked the man for signs of life but he was quite dead. However tucked under the bow he could see a bit of color and there wrapped in a woman's cardigan was a little baby girl crying and very much alive. Isabel took the baby from Tom and it was love at first sight. Tom needed to report the boat, dead man & baby but Izz begged him to wait until morning. His heart sank but he felt so horribly sad for his wife, having just lost their third child two weeks prior, that he gave in. By the next morning she had convinced him that they should bury the man and keep the baby. Obviously the mother had fallen overboard and drowned beings the baby was wrapper in her sweater.

No one would know because the supply boat hadn't been since she had lost this last little one. Everyone would think it was theirs.

I found this to be an excellent story. I highly recommend it and I rated it 4 1/2 stars.

Up next: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, another Orange L/L for 2013.

Mar 15, 2013, 4:04 am

Oh, I'm reading Gone Girl at the moment, it's a very compelling read!

Mar 15, 2013, 6:39 pm

Oh goodie! I have barely started it. Just getting ready to take it and go for a lie down. I think I am on the 4th or 5th little part. Here's to enjoying and appreciating it! Cheers.

Mar 17, 2013, 12:53 pm

Jane and Prudence by Barbara Pym

Jane, 41 and Prudence,29 are friends from school days at Oxford, Jane being the teacher and Prudence having been her pupil. They have remained friends these many years. Jane is married to a Vicar, Nicholas and they have a daughter, Flora who is ready to attend University. Prudence has remained a spinster though she has an imaginary crush on her married boss at work.
And though one would expect that of the two women Jane would be the one with common sense this does not prove out. Poor Jane goes through her life with very humorous vague thoughts, actions and conversation. In fact she is most inappropriate in the funniest of ways and at the strangest of times. In reading her I sometimes felt like a curtain just plop, dropped over her eyes and mouth. On the other hand Prudence has common sense even though she lives in a world of make believe love.
When Nicholas is transferred from his London Parish to a village Parish Jane and Prudence continue their friendship through letters and train trips back and forth to visit one another.
The women of the Parish often raise an eyebrow at Jane for she is definitely not your ordinary Vicar's wife plus the previous Vicar was unmarried though he was (**gasp**) engaged to a woman whom his parishioners had never met. And as with any Pym novel, there is much matchmaking by the ladies of the church.
I enjoyed this one as I do all of Barbara Pym's work but have waited to long to give a review of much content. For as Pym's works are all similar in the way of the nice middle aged spinster women doing their good deeds, working for the local Parish, caring for the Parish Curate or Vicar and spending time gossiping and matchmaking, if I don't write the review right away her books all run together in my head. But that is something I have come to love and depend on from her.
Like all of her other books that I have read, I recommend Jane and Prudence. I giggled and laughed my way merrily through this one. I do remember thinking that it is the funniest one of hers I have read yet. I rated it 4 stars.

Mar 17, 2013, 12:58 pm

I'll have to read Jane and Prudence soon. I am in a Barbara Pym kind of mood right now.

Mar 18, 2013, 11:58 pm

Isn't she wonderful Doc, when you are just in the mood. Nice cuppa or java and a Pym sometimes just hits the spot.

Editado: Mar 21, 2013, 3:02 pm

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn Orange L/L for 2013

Gone Girl is a taut suspenseful psychological thriller wherein both partners of a marriage are so into mind-*uc* games with the other that I couldn't tell if either of them really knew when the game went South. This book is fascinating.
Nick, the tall handsome husband, in the beginning does and tries to do everything he can to make his more than perfectly beautiful in every way wife, Amy, happy. He is the perfect husband. If he isn't sure about what to do to accomplish her happiness then he asks her. And for her part, Amy, just by being with him is the perfect wife. This seems to work until both of them, writers, are laid off from their jobs in New York City where Amy was raised by wealthy writers of children's books whose stories were based on their precious little Amy.
Nick takes Amy back to his hometown where his mother is dying of cancer, his father is in a home with Alzheimer's and where his sister still resides. This makes Amy very angry and an angry Amy is not someone to mess around with. So there they are, neither one with jobs and Nick stops trying in the marriage. This makes Amy even more angry. She begins to plot and when Amy plots she doesn't mess around. This woman is brilliant! Before we know it, Amy has gone missing and the clues all point to you guessed it: the husband Nick.
The book is written in a very different format. Our author has taken it chapter by chapter and alternated the telling of the story from the POV of Amy, then Nick, back to Amy, etc. Strangely enough it works.
I lost sleep in the reading of this book. I can't say that it was a great book, though I gave it 3 1/2 stars, but I will say it is a fascinating read and it definitely held my interest. However I did find the ending strangely unsatisfying even though it rang true to the story. I don't think that all will like this book but the ones who do like it will really like it. There is not anything boring about it.

Next up: The Red Book by Deborah Copaken Kogan, another Orange L/L book for 2013.

Mar 19, 2013, 2:48 am

Well said. Gone Girl was all of those things. A fascinating story which kept me awake as well, but you are right about the ending. It was a bit wrong.

Editado: Jul 15, 2013, 3:29 am

The Red Book by Deborah Copaken Kogan Orange L/L, 2013

I am still attempting to decide if the author was telling a story/stories or doing character studies. To me it felt & worked more like a character study of these four women who graduated Harvard in 1989 & their spouses, partners, friends, children, co-grads. They have returned for a reunion and as they meet up with each other the reader learns their thoughts and expectations for each one as we also learn the accomplishments of each one.
'The Red Book' signifies the book that comes out to the alumni every five years and each alumni is encouraged to write their personal contact information, what they are now doing with their lives, what their spouses are doing with theirs, their children by name and year of birth, etc. Some complete these questionnaires, some do not, but most of 'ours' do. They are compiled into 'The Red Book' and then sent out. Then when at their 20 year reunion each alumni will have an idea of what their previous classmate's lives have turned out to be.
Of our ladies:
Mia is married to film director Jonathan, is a stay at home mom of 4; Max-17, Eli-14, Joshua-10, and infant Zoe-7 months. Mia wanted to be an actress but it just never worked out for her. However she has taken to wedded life and motherhood quite naturally and is content and happy in this role.
Clover is the managing director & leader of a team focused on mortgage-backed securities. Her partner in life, Danny is a Legal Aid Attorney, doing a lot of pro-bono work. They have no children.
Jane is a reporter for the Boston Globe and was married to a journalist Herve, who was murdered while on a story. Her current partner Bruno, knew them when they were a them. He is an editor and Jane has a daughter, Sophie-6, by her first husband. They have no other children.
Addison is an artist married to a writer, Gunner. Both seem to be rather non-productive and live off a family inheritance which seems to support most of the family. They have three children; daughter Trilby-13, Houghton-11 and Thatcher-10. All three of them go by their middle names.
The girls all get together annually at Mia & John's vacation home in Antibes and a couple of them get together more frequently as they are able.
At this twenty year reunion they come back to Harvard bringing with them their children and significant others. We get to know them all and Kogan has compiled some well rounded characters. There is growth and/or regression within all of their lives.
I enjoyed the characters, their thoughts, lives and I thought that the book worked very well on that level. However as a novel, I was left feeling that something was lacking. I liked it well enough to give it 2 1/2 stars and I guess would have to say that I guardedly recommend it.

Next up another Orange L/L book of 2013, Ignorance by Michele Roberts.

Mar 21, 2013, 11:05 pm

Thumb for your great review of The Red Book, Belva! I appreciate your enthusiasm for the Oranges! I just pre - ordered Life After Life by Kate Atkinson. I hope it will arrive in the first week of April. I'll be very interested in your thoughts on Ignorance - it's on my Orange Radar! .

Mar 22, 2013, 1:49 am

Thank you Deb. I just pre-ordered Life After Life as well after I read that Laura is after that one. You should have yours on or perhaps even before the 2nd. They try to mail them out so they get to you by the date of issue.

Mar 23, 2013, 3:39 am

Oh, I had a ball reading Gone Girl, but I think she did write herself into a corner, leading to a somewhat uncomfortable ending. But it was a lot of fun up until then.

Mar 23, 2013, 1:47 pm

Tania, I am so glad you enjoyed it. I did enjoy the book but just not in the way I was expecting to nor in the way of reading a novel. It was more like a character/s study for me. But I did like it. Just can't say it was wonderful but it was a 3 1/2 star read for me and I must say that my curiosity was not dimmed throughout.
I agree with you that she did rather write herself into a corner near the end. Perhaps she even wrote a little farther than needed. At any rate, a good read.

Mar 23, 2013, 1:57 pm

I think I need a little break from the Orange Prize (Women's Fiction Prize) L/L so I have returned to The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. I realized upon picking it up that I had forgotten bits of it so have backed up to the beginning again. I am however also reading one from the Orange L/L: Ignorance but as it is about War-time, it is more up my alley than some I was reading and is a more 'comfortable' place for me to be. It is very good thus far.

Mar 24, 2013, 2:15 am

A bit of belva book trivia:
This month I completed The Children's Book, read The Red Book and today brought home from the library The Blue Book. I just thought it a bit odd as I was entering T.B.B. into my library.

Editado: Mar 24, 2013, 3:51 am

Oh, I hope you like The Blue Book, I have a copy of that in Mt TBR. I heard a great interview with the author when it came out, which is why I bought it, but haven't read it yet!

ETA: found the link to the interview, http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/bookshow/al-kennedys-the-blue-book/... - that page has links to the transcript and the audio.

Mar 24, 2013, 2:32 pm

Excellent. Thank you for that link Tania. I am really hoping that I enjoy the book too. I was so surprised though when I picked it up from the library to see that it has a red cover. lol!~!

Mar 25, 2013, 11:47 pm

The Children's Book by A.S. Byatt

The Children's Book is an ambitious work. It is full of ideas, thoughts, imaginings, daydreams, experiments, everything you can delight, find appalling or horrific right up through to the end.

We begin in the late 1800s in a museum in London, where a young lad Philip, who wants to work in pottery and clay is found by the museum curate's son & his friend, sketching the museum's metalwork and living secretly in the shallows of the the museum. The friend of the curate's son just happens to be the son of an acclaimed author of children's books, Olive Wellwood. Soon Philip is apprenticed to Wellwood family friend Benedict Fludd, a master of pottery of the day.

The progressive, (new age, even then), Wellwoods both writers have seven children: Tom, Dorothy, Phillis, Hedda, Florian, Robin and Harry.

Olive's sister Violet lives with them and cares for the children and runs the house as both Olive & her husband Humphry are so very, very busy writing. They have a great many artictic friends who come, visit, and stay. Putting on workshops and doing plays, puppet shows and the like. They are all, parents, children and friends an energetic bunch bursting with new ideas and beliefs (socialism, suffragism, anarchism, free love), and Byatt's characters are excited & willing participants. Joining in all of the lecturing, writing, workshops, and regrouping when the fallout indicates a lack of success with that particular attempted idea.

Olive, seems to be the great earth mother represents that brand of early–20th century literary imagination that found its best expression in works for children. What could be more wonderful than a mother who writes personalized fairy tales for each of her children? Except, of course, that fairy tales can be the darkest kind there are, and in the case of Olive (and Fludd and most of the other creative types portrayed here), a life in the arts has psychic costs. Often it's the next generation that pays. Eventually the children, in particular Olive's daughter Dorothy, eclipse their parents in the plot of the story and if sides are to be taken, we definitely take theirs, the children's.

It is easy to get lost in this book but one is never tempted to put it down. Nearing the end of the book, the author takes the Wellwoods, their children & friends who have been living in a kind of make believe world, with offshoot story-lines of abuse and incest among others out of their idyllic lives and entrenches them within the real world of WWI, it's muddy, bloody trenches and the horrors of the hospitals and makeshift hospitals. Lives are shattered and our author writes of this in a very unsentimental manner.

There were occasions while reading the book that I became engulfed with the reality of the era and quite forgot the characters for a bit. But just for a bit. Then I was back in their world, their tragedies, their successes, thought they be small or large.

This was a very satisfying read for me and when I had finished it I lay the book down and said to myself: So that's what all the shouting has been about. I must say also that I had never heard of the Fabian Society nor a great many other sociological groups prior to this read and it made me hungry to find out more about these groups. The Children's Book was a 5+ star read for me and I very highly recommend it.

Editado: Mar 26, 2013, 1:20 am

Ignorance by Michele Roberts

Basically a home front story of WWII in a French village, Ignorance is a story told about two young girls who are friends of a sort and who both, for different reasons, are sent to live for a time at the convent. Marie-Angele is the daughter of a grocer and Jeanne is the daughter of their laundress. It takes them from this age through to middle age and tells of the differences in their lives.
This tale is told in a beautifully descriptive manner but it is not a beautiful story. It is the story of what people are driven to do to stay safe and alive when living in wartime and during a Nazi German occupation.
As I read this book I was at times enthralled and at times appalled. While good, I didn't find it to be consistently good. It was told from the POV of several different characters and that didn't endear it to me. I found myself floundering several times while reading the book. But still I found it very interesting and when I wasn't lost in the book I thought it quite good.
I rated it 3 1/2 stars and guardedly recommend it.

Next up: The Forrests by Emily Perkins.

Mar 26, 2013, 1:50 am

Belva, I so appreciate your reviews on the Oranges!! Thumb for this one! I'm still going to try to read it. I was out at the bookstore today and I looked at The Marlowe Papers by Ros Barber and that is an Orange LL I'm going to skip! It is a big thick book and it's written in poetry! Not for me!!! I could not find many of the LL Oranges, but I'm reading The Innocents and finding it very disappointing. It's an easy read. Come and visit me sometime in the 75 books for 2013!

Mar 26, 2013, 3:06 am

When I read The Children's Book a while back, I thought it was a brilliant story but that the brilliant story was a bit bogged down in too much detail. From memory, there was too much information on things like making pottery. But so pleased you found it five star worthy.

Mar 26, 2013, 6:26 am

Oh I loved The Children's Book too! And The Forrests is on my wishlist, I hope you like it! I thought her previous Novel About My Wife was great.

Mar 26, 2013, 7:08 am

Oh, I missed The Forrests. It was a brilliant book. I did love that one!

Mar 26, 2013, 4:26 pm

Deb; Thank you for your kind words. I have The Marlowe Papers from the library and am going to give it a go if I have time before it must be returned. I am sure there is a queue for it. And I am sad to hear that you are not enjoying The Innocents. That is another I have in my TBR pile. So did you find anything that looked interesting at the bookshop? Did anything come home with you? (Orange or not)
And I will pop over to the 75 gig and look you up. I am curious to see what you have been reading this year.

judylou; Regarding The Children's Book, I agree. It was quite a brilliant read, absolutely fascinating. I don't recall being fascinated by the info on the pottery except as it pertained to the story but when Byatt was talking of all the sociological groups that their little group and the 'children' attended meetings of, I do have to admit to a fascination with all of that. She spoke of groups that I had never heard of and made me go off seeking info about them, taking precious reading time from me. lol!~!

wookie; Hi there girl. How's trix? Glad to hear that you loved The Children's Book as well. judylou is so right. It was brilliant on the part of Byatt. Her best of those I have read. I am only about 1/3 of the way into The Forrests but it is an easy read, not too pondersome and I am enjoying it. I loved the way it started, the way we got into the story. Brought some good memories forth.
And I have found over the years that the Oranges I really like, usually I do like others by that same author. So I will have to hunt down her Novel About my Wife. Thanx for the reck.

So glad to hear such a good report on The Forrests judylou. I am enjoying it and it's still early on in the book so I hope that I come to love it too. I do love brilliance in a book.

Thank you all for popping over. So nice to 'see' you.
hugs all round,

Mar 29, 2013, 4:37 am

The Forrests by Emily Perkins

The story of a family, parents Frank & Lee along with children Evelyn, Dorothy, Michael, & Ruthie, made their way from New York, where Frank has attempted to get into show business to Auckland,
New Zealand where Frank tries to break into show business as well. However he is a dismal failure
at it and the family is left to attempt to live off Franks trust fund. Lee goes to work in a store and Frank comes and goes at will. The children are often left to their own devices.
Frank decides to return alone to New York as his family there has come into some money and he
would like to get his share. After he leaves the family has a rough time financially and well, face it. They had a tough time making it when he was there. At any rate one day a van pulls up in front of the house and Lee and the kids along with Daniel, a seemingly homeless boy or one whose mother doesn't take care of & who has adopted the Forrest family as his own, clamber into it and off they go with Rena, the driver and owner of a property turned into a self supporting commune. They live there for some time. At the commune they raise vegetables and have an orchard, some make craft items and they sell these items to help provide for the people who live within the commune. It is very casual
living here, a bit of free love goes on but the children seem to flourish in this atmosphere.
When Frank returns to New Zealand he tries to make Lee and the kids return to the family life they had before. They return with him but things get no better and eventually Frank and Lee split up.
The storyline after this is mainly the 2nd daughter Dorothy's story but there are still some chapters filled with the stories of Frank, Lee, Michael & Ruthie briefly until near the book's end but there is quite a bit of Eve (or Evelyn) as well as Daniel throughout the book. The Dorothy, Daniel, Eve story was a bit painful to read from beginning to end in this book. I felt the book could have as easily been a memoir as a novel.
In reading posts of the book throughout L.T., it doesn't seem to be very well received but I loved it. I saw a great deal of my years wrapped up in this story and I identified with a lot of it. I also loved the writing whereas some did not. But I thought it beautifully written. It seemed to me to be a book that I drifted or floated through. There were some beautifully described scenes, some that made me laugh aloud, some that made me weep and at the end of the book, I found myself looking within myself and questioning how am I going to go through that when the time comes. I checked this book out of the library but having finished it, I truly wish that I had purchased it so that I can reread it. I highly recommend it and rated it 4 stars.

Next up: The Innocents by Francesca Segal; L/L 2013

Editado: Mar 29, 2013, 5:04 am

Great job with your review of The Forrests. I may want to read it after all! Had a dental problem today and had to rush into the dentist, so I did not get really anything,but I think that I am starting Life After Life By Kate Atkinson. I'm only 50 pages in ( it close to 500 pages, so I'm ready to commit to the book, but it seems interesting!

Thumb for your review! Thanks, Belva!

here is a link to my 75 thread http://www.librarything.com/topic/150801

Mar 29, 2013, 7:07 am

Oh, I must get a copy of The Forrests! And Deb, I hope you like Life After Life, I've loved Atkinson's Jackson Brodie series.

Mar 29, 2013, 2:29 pm

I am eager to read the Jackson Brodie series. Everyone on L.T. seems to be or have enjoyed them. Eagerly awaiting April 2nd for my pre-ordered copy of Life After Life. Can't wait to begin that one even though I have several Orange L/L books here from the library yet to read before the 6th.

Thanx for the link Deb. Made it really easy to find you. I don't want to lose touch when we have completed the Orange reads although I will be on here at least once a month for kidzdoc's An Orange a Month challenge.

Thanx too, to the both you and Tania for popping over. It always makes me feel special when someone has taken the time to stop by and say a little something. Nice way to begin one's day, don't you think? A visit and a cup of tea or coffee. Tea this A.M. The tummy has been a bit off the last couple of days. It doesn't like it when I get up in the middle of the night and eat half of a lemon meringue pie. Tasty at the time but too much, way too much.

Have a great day ladies.

Mar 29, 2013, 2:50 pm

I have never heard of Jackson Brodie. Is it a mystery series?

Enjoying your reviews as always, Belva. This is a dangerous thread.

Mar 29, 2013, 8:33 pm

So pleased you liked The Forrests so much! It was a favourite read of mine last year. I loved it for all the reasons you did it seems.

Editado: Jul 15, 2013, 3:32 am

>140 jfetting:: Jennifer; it is a detective/mystery series and seems that everyone is enjoying them. I am going to read a few more Orange L/Ls and then try to find the first one and give it a try.
I think there are four thus far and they are:
1. Case Histories by Kate Atkinson; Orange L/L 2005
2. One Good Turn: A Jolly Murder Mystery by Kate Atkinson
3. When Will There Be Good News? by Kate Atkinson
4. Started Early, Took My Dog by Kate Atkinson
Thank you for your kind words lady.

>141 judylou:: judylou; Because we have good taste. lol!~! I was surprised I actually enjoyed it that much because it doesn't seem to be grabbing many. But yeah, I loved it! Glad you liked it so well too.

thanx for popping over ladies. Catch ya on the flip.

Editado: Mar 30, 2013, 2:33 am

You are so sweet, Belva! Glad you visited my thread today! Yes, everyone has loved the Jackson Brodie series! We ladies are all vying for Jackson Brodie! :) Yes, I've read the series!
Went out and bought some orajel for my ? gum/ bone - even though I saw the dentist on Thursday, what ever the problem is it is still bothering me. Sigh! :)

Mar 30, 2013, 2:35 am

And hey there Tania - I've got to find your thread too!

Mar 30, 2013, 8:19 pm

I read WHen will there be Good News a while back and thought it was great. But I wasn't aware at the time that it was third in the series. I haven't read any of the others yet, but I am annoyed that I will be reading them out of order. I hate that!

Abr 2, 2013, 6:39 am

Judy, it's not that essential to read Jackson Brodie in order (although I do prefer reading series in order myself!). Don't worry too much if you jump in with #3.

Deb, have your thread starred, I must pop by! I'll drop a link to my thread while I'm there...

Abr 2, 2013, 7:25 pm

I've just ordered the series on audio from the library. Looking forward to them now.

Abr 3, 2013, 3:31 am

Do they generally come on CD or tape these days? I haven't listened to an audio book since I was driving back and forth to college a few years ago. This could be a good alternative for me since I never read during the daytime. I only read in bed so I could get more 'reading' time if if I availed myself of the audio books.

Editado: Abr 3, 2013, 6:41 am

I always get them on CDs, but you can still get cassettes at times. I always listen to them on long car trips and while doing menial jobs around the house and yard. You can also get mp3s too.

Abr 4, 2013, 8:01 pm

Thanx for the info Judy. I am going to try them out. I think I would especially enjoy them in the car and while in bed at night.

Editado: Abr 6, 2013, 9:13 pm

Family History by Vita Sackville-West

This is the story of Evelyn and Miles. She a 40 year old widow with a 17 year old son and he a 24 year old land holder, writer & political young man.
From the beginning of the novel the reader realizes that this is an affair that will not end well. They meet through friends at a dance and fall for each other. They yearn to be together but that desire comes to each of them very selfishly. She wants to be with him most of the time and wants him to want, need & desire her above all else. She wishes to be everything to him. Whilst he wants to be with her, he has so many interests that keep him away from her for periods of time. He is a new thinker and doesn't live by the Victorian rules of the time. How society sees him is not important to him while to Evelyn it is all important and she begrudges him every moment away from her for she has no other interests than he and her son.
As they go through their affair they attempt to hide it as Evelyn cannot bear for people to gossip about her nor to think poorly of her. She has always been very proper and done what was expected of her and this certainly isn't expected behavior for a lady of her breeding. It doesn't matter to Miles. He wants to take her out and spend time openly with her. And of course as she succumbs to his wishes over time, people begin to talk. This angers Evelyn and she begins to blame Miles. It also angers her a great deal when he spends time on his writing, on his country work and that he needs to spend a certain amount of time with people of like mind with himself. She doesn't understand his needs nor does he understand hers. And so they squabble, fuss & argue. Then come together for wonderfully romantic make-ups but then it all goes to pot again.
It took me a bit to get my head wrapped around all of the characters for there are quite a few. Evelyn still spends a great deal of time with her in-laws even though her husband has been dead, killed in the war, for quite some time. So there are all of them to get to know plus Miles' politically thinking friends.
I liked this book a great deal. I cared about most all of the characters, even the slackers and I fully intend to give it a reread sooner rather than later for I feel I didn't give it my full attention, or that I missed some subtle nuances. I will also say that while reading the last portion of the book, one is unable to set the book aside. This part of the book is a grueling read but a necessary and actually beautiful part of the story.
I rated Family History 4 out of 5 stars and think if I had been able to read it without interruption I would have rated it even higher.

Next up: Back to the Oranges and The Innocents by Francesca Segal which I am taking up midway as I set it aside to read Family History.

Abr 6, 2013, 10:08 pm

Hi There Belva

I've decided follow you here in the 100 book challenge.

Thanks for letting me know you are here.

Editado: Abr 7, 2013, 7:19 am

At long last I finished Life After Life by Kate Atkinson and I reviewed and I LOVED it

Wonderful review of Family History, Belva! thumb. You always write such wonderful reviews.

Abr 8, 2013, 1:22 am

>152 Whisper1::
Hello Linda. Thank you for popping over. And you are so more than welcome.

>153 vancouverdeb::
Deb; Glad you read it, glad you loved it and I thumbed it. lol!~! Very nice reviews and mine are nowhere near as good as yours. But thank you anyway.
hugs to you too,

Editado: Abr 10, 2013, 7:51 am

Just stopping by to say hi! I've put a hold on The Forrests from the library, thanks to your positive thoughts about the book, and your review! Thanks for the encouragement. I'm not sure when I'll get the book, or if it will catch my fancy, but I'm hoping so!

Belva, you write better reviews than I do! I really struggle with mine...

Abr 10, 2013, 8:48 pm

Ha, and you don't think I do? Sometimes I don't know what to say no matter how long I think about it. So I just begin typing.
The Children's Story was one for me and when I read it after I posted it, it seemed to me to be rather jumbled. But it was done, by golly. ;-)

Editado: Abr 15, 2013, 12:29 pm

The Innocents by Francesca Segal

The Innocents, the story of a group of young Jewish friends, offshoot acquaintances and their families living in London, is at times quirky, funny, sad and quite humorous. Even through the sadness of parts of the story one can see the selfishness yet also the redeeming qualities of most of the characters in this book.
Adam, our protagonist is in his late twenties and has been seeing & dating Rachel since their mid-teens. When they finally get engaged, which everyone had been waiting for, all of the Jewish community around them celebrate the event and are very happy that it has finally come about.
Adam is an attorney who works for and with Lawrence, Rachel's father who loves Adam like a son. Rachel works as a teacher if my recollection is correct. They have a tight knit group of very good friends with whom they go out, have intellectual conversations with and enjoy spending time with.
Into their lives comes Ellie, the American cousin of Rachel. Orphaned at a young age she was raised by family members. Ellie is the girl whom everyone wants to think of as 'the bad girl'. And matters do indeed get into a twist upon her arrival. The young men all think she is hot and the women all can't wait to gossip about her and her past and what they think will happen now that she is here.
Adam becomes very confused in what/who he wants and there is a pulling back and forth within himself throughout most of the book. He agonizes over decisions that he cannot make. Also in the story there are events that were all consuming to me as I read them; some of them very intense.
Almost all the reviews I have read about this book compare it to Edith Wharton's The Age of Innocence but I have to admit that though I have read the Wharton twice, I didn't give it a thought while reading The Innocents. I loved how Segal grew her characters so simply and easily that one knew them before one realized the character had gone from A to B and we didn't see the changing until we had that realization. I found all of her characters to be very interesting and well suited to the story. Also I loved the writing in this book. It flowed very nicely.
I do recommend The Innocents and rated it a 3 1/2 out of 5 stars.

Next up: Less Than Angels by Barbara Pym and I am also reading Call the Midwife: A Memoir of Birth, Joy, and Hard Times on the Kindle at night when the hubby is sleeping so the light doesn't disturb his sleep.

Abr 21, 2013, 9:52 am

I finished Less Than Angels and I didn't care for it quite as much as I have Pym's others but I liked it well enough.
Started Call the Midwife, set it aside. Began The Voyage Out, still reading it at odd times. Began 1st to Die only to find out I had already read it. Thinking of starting 2nd Chance but IDK. Just can't seem to settle anywhere. And it's not because the books I have begun aren't good. I am just not in the zone. Hmmmm.......

Abr 21, 2013, 5:46 pm

I love the show based on Call the Midwife. A Sunday night must-watch. Since you set it aside, I'd think that it might not be as good BUT if you can't settle, then maybe it is just a mood thing.

Abr 22, 2013, 12:13 pm

>159 jfetting::
No, no.......it is very good. But I just had too much on my mind, the hubby and I have both been ill and I love the show so very much that I don't wish to read it with my mind roving to my stomach, my head, my back, my grand kids, (whom we are still day-caring), etc. I think it will be a marvelous read Jennifer.

I began The Thirteenth Tale in bed last night and read half of it before my head, blinded eyes, and sleep forced me to set it aside. A brilliant novel. Can't wait to get back to it tonight. I must be feeling better and so will most likely go back to The Voyage Out or Call the Midwife tonight.

Abr 22, 2013, 7:48 pm

When you are feeling sick, you need to find a very specific book to read I think. Everyone needs something different. I like to read books I don't have to think about - like zombies, vampires, etc!

Abr 23, 2013, 7:56 am

Yes, I'm with Judy, something slight and filled with lots of empire line dresses, silly fops, and regency slang works for me. Hello, Georgette Heyer!

I did rather enjoy The Thirteenth Tale, I hope it doesn't succumb to your current lack of being in the zone.

Editado: Abr 25, 2013, 4:45 pm

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

Margaret helps her father in his antiquarian bookshop. She also writes short bios or essays on long dead authors. She is fascinated by the written word of a hundred years ago. He father attempts to get her to read current fiction but she doesn't enjoy it. Among her favorites are Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights and The Woman in White. She leads a quiet life living in a small flat above that of her parents.

Margaret was born one of a pair of twins. Her twin died at birth and so did a part of her mother. While her father is very engaged in her life and shares a great deal in common with Margaret, her mother is a rather cold and distant part of her life. She doesn't often leave the flat and returns home quite disturbed when she does.

One rainy evening returning from her outside work, Margaret finds, waiting on the step for her, a letter from the very prominent author Vida Winter. She sits down upon the step to read the letter. "(I never read without making sure I am in a secure position. I have been like this ever since the age of seven when, sitting on a high wall and reading The Water Babies, I was so seduced by the descriptions of underwater life that I unconsciously relaxed my muscles. Instead of being held buoyant by the water that so vividly surrounded me in my mind, I plummeted to the ground and knocked myself out. I can still feel the scar under my fringe now. Reading can be dangerous.)" Ms Winter has never given an authentic interview. They all somehow turn into a piece of fiction, a story. But in her letter to Margaret she invites her to come and meet with her. She wants Margaret to write an honest biography of her life.

Margaret is hesitant but after talking it over with her father she decides to meet with Ms. Winter. When she arrives she is taken to the library and while waiting she peruses the shelves and happily finds the books that she herself has so loved. She also finds many editions of each book that Ms. Winter has written except for her much talked about Thirteen Tales of Change and Desperation. This book is a compilation of Ms Winter's own renditions of fairy tales. Margaret had read her fathers much protected edition of the book the night she received the letter and found the tales to be "brutal and sharp and heartbreaking" but she loved them. When she came to the end of the twelfth tale upon turning the next pages she found that there was no "thirteenth tale".

When she asked her father why the book was so valuable he told her "Partly because it's the first edition of the first book by the most famous living writer in the English language. But mostly because it's flawed. Every following edition is called Tales of Change and Desperation. No mention of thirteen. You'll have noticed there are only twelve stories?" There were supposed to have been thirteen stories but only twelve were submitted and there was a mix-up with the jacket design. The book was printed with the original title but only twelve stories. They were recalled except for one which had already been sold. Margaret's father had purchased that edition from a collector. People still called the book the Thirteen Tales even though the corrected title Tales of Change and Desperation had been published for over fifty years.

During the interview with Vida Winter regarding the biography Margaret is told that Ms Winter wishes to tell the whole truth about her life and she thinks that Margaret is the writer to do it. Margaret reluctantly agrees to do it.

And so begins "The Thirteenth Tale.

It is an often bizaare and queer tale beginning with the fact that Ms Winter is one of a set of twins just as is Margaret. The story is being told now because Ms Winter is old, ill and has waited too long to tell it herself. In fact she is ill enough that they only meet daily at times when Ms Winter is strong enough to tell more of the story. Margaret spends hours in the evenings transcribing what she has been told that day.

The story is of a village, Angelfield; a house, Angelfield and the Angelfield family of George, Mathilde; their children Charlie and Isabelle, Isabelle's children Emmeline and Adeline and 'their ghost'. Mathilde dies in childbirth with Isabelle and during the birthing, the baby is deprived of oxygen. She becomes known by all as odd. Her brother develops an unnatural obsession with Isabelle. They play strange games, don't develop as 'normal' youth do and eventually she runs off, marries, gives birth to the twins, her husband dies of pneumonia and she returns with her twin girls to the family estate. Only Charlie and the servants remain, her father having pined away to death upon her leaving.

The twins grow up wild and in their own world. Through their lives come others wanting to help but eventually all who remain are the housekeeper, the head gardener, the girls...and the story..........
This story is so fascinating that to put it down even the one time was torture. It was a two sitting read. I found all of the characters to be believable. And the only fault I could find came at the end of the book and was with the doctor, the cat, and the invitation. That didn't ring true to me with the storyline. But this was a five star read for me and I very highly recommend it.

Now back to The Voyage Out by Virginia Woolf.
It is getting very good now that I have figured out most of the characters. I quite like her writing even in this, her first novel.

Abr 24, 2013, 7:30 pm

Great review!

Abr 24, 2013, 8:35 pm

Ditto! And thanks for the reminder of the book, I'd actually forgotten most of the plot. Sigh, silly memory.

Abr 25, 2013, 1:09 pm

Thank you ladies. I appreciate that. It is an awesome book. But we do forget over time, don't we, the plots and even the storylines of books read in the past. Thus the rereads. :-)

Editado: Jun 10, 2013, 5:13 pm

Summer Read of To Kill a Mockingbird:
Who's in?

Abr 26, 2013, 8:45 am

I'm in !!

Abr 26, 2013, 9:03 pm

Oh, that would be a good one to re-read. Is there a timeframe? I'm not even sure if I have a copy...

Abr 28, 2013, 12:57 pm

You know, I planned to read To Kill a Mockingbird back in February, but got derailed when my father broke his hip. Perhaps I should try again. Where you thinking of a time-frame?

Abr 29, 2013, 8:03 pm

No time constraints, just 2013. Spring, Summer, Autumn or Winter with a note back to my thread here.

Maio 4, 2013, 11:57 am

Less Than Angels by Barbara Pym

I didn't know a thing about anthropology except what it was when beginning this book and still don't. But I know that wasn't the purpose of the book. Pym has strayed from her middle aged spinsters of the Vicar's club to a younger group while keeping some of her stylistic threads running throughout the book. I must admit that while I always enjoy her writing, this book just didn't do it for me. Catherine and Tom's relationship seemed strange to me from the beginning and while I did like Catherine's character, Tom was rather namby pamby. But there again, I am sure that Ms. Pym intended it that way. Deirdre drove me nuts. I found her very needy and immature. However I must say that I enjoyed Digby and Mark and absolutely loved the interaction between Catherine and Mr. Lydgate. Their burning of his trunks of anthropological notes left me with a stitch my side from laughter.
Though this book didn't work for me on many levels I still had to give it 3 stars as Pym's writing is always perfection no matter the storyline.

Editado: Maio 4, 2013, 12:02 pm

Year Before Last by Kay Boyle

This is the story of Hannah and Martin, who live a transient life together in Europe after meeting in Paris. Hannah has left her husband to live with Martin, a brilliant but rude poet, writer and editor of a magazine which is strong armed by his possessive aunt. The couple reads together, sit in hotels, and take walks with the dogs. But beneath the bohemian calm, there are tremors. Martin has tuberculosis. His Scotch aunt Eve, who financed his literary magazine, has furiously withdrawn her money. She is over-the-top jealous of Hannah and fears the loss of her relationship with Martin.
Martin and Hannah are penniless. They borrow and scheme to make it appear as if they have money as they move from district to district and from hotel to hotel. Unwanted guests due to Martin’s tuberculosis, they are often kicked out after one night because of his coughing. They have few options. He knows he is dying, but refuses to go to a sanatorium.
Hannah will do anything to keep Martin alive. She lies, prevents their friends from forcibly sending him away, and gives Martin prescribed injections of opium to ease him in his illness. And his Aunt Eve weaves in and out of their lives throughout the narrative.
The story is tragic but compelling, beautiful but bleak. It is written in a rather different manner but after the first few pages that is forgotten. I liked the story even though I knew early on what the outcome would be. The characters are interesting and there is an ease about the way it is written given the subject matter. I gave this one 3 1/2 stars.

Next up: The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox by Maggie O'Farrell

Editado: Jul 15, 2013, 3:34 am

Having finished the marvelous The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox, quite a wonderful book really, I am now reading The Cat (an ER/ARC) by Edeet Ravel and finding it intoxicating

Maio 8, 2013, 7:11 am

I loved Esme Lennox. Maggie O'Farrell is often overlooked in my opinion.

Maio 8, 2013, 9:57 am

I totally agree Judy. I found the book to be an absolute page turner and am on the lookout for more of hers.

Editado: Maio 16, 2013, 1:54 am

The Cat by Edeet Ravel; (an ER/ARC; thank you)

This book was remarkable in that we were in the head of the protagonist from the very beginning of the book until near the end. I would have rated it higher had we stayed there.
A single mother of a young son loses him in a horrible accident right in front of their home. This is the story of how she copes or rather does not cope but rather continues to exist. The lad had a cat that they both adored and while she wants to end her life, she must stay to care for the cat that her son loved so much.
"I don't want to go mad, though I know I'm already halfway there. A line from an old Joan Baez song keeps coming to me: 'sadness broke finally into madness'. Right now the venom-green pills are the only thing standing between me and irreversible mental illness."
She struggles through her waking hours waiting until she can slip into the sleep of nothingness. Yet every morning she wakes to the horror anew. She feeds and cares for the cat and takes care of her personal needs but doesn't leave the house. She has her phone service turned off, doesn't answer the door, cancels her email account; she does everything she can think of to become anonymous to the world. She is barely holding on by her fingernails.
"These scenes I summon, of Neil and our son reading the newspaper in the library together, or having an after-school snack at Starbucks--sometimes I can't grasp that it's over and I see them there still. There are times when the finality is real, but at other times I coast. The brain can only support so much reality, it seems, before it shuts down and refuses to proceed.
Is that the meaning of mercy--drugs, illusion, sleep?"
"A satisfying snowstorm outside. I hope it rips the city apart. I hope roofs fly off houses, I hope windows shatter. But no, maybe not--because 'what will the robin do then, poor thing?"
She eventually begins to see a counselor and try to work her way back to the land of the living. Not an easy job, that. She doesn't even know if she wants to. She thinks not.
This story gripped me from the beginning. The isolation of this young mother in her heartrending brokenness. I rated it 4 stars and recommend it to a certain populace. I don't think it will be for everyone.

Have moved on to another Orange S/L: Where'd You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple

Maio 16, 2013, 1:58 am

As I head out to the Philly Meet-Up tomorrow night on the red-eye, I am all prepared. I have all of the S/L Oranges loaded on my Kindle which should eat up the flight time. I leave SeaTac at 10:05 P.M. and arrive in Philly at 6:30 A.M. Hopefully I will have read at least 2 or 3 of them by the time I return home Monday night on the red-eye.
I am so excited to be taking this trip, having this adventure and meeting so many of the wonderful people I have had the pleasure of conversing with on L.T. over the years.

Maio 16, 2013, 8:24 am

Have a great time Belva - I look forward to hearing all about it:)

Maio 16, 2013, 3:39 pm

Thank you calm. Soooooooo excited. It will be a real adventure for me.

Maio 16, 2013, 8:46 pm

An adventure for sure! What a thrill to actually meet up with people that you already feel you know through LT.

Maio 19, 2013, 3:26 pm

I know Judy, right? It has been marvelous. I did take today off however, as after walking 3 or 4 miles yesterday my knees were killing me, my ankles swollen and I just felt exhausted. A lot of the group went home last evening or this morning so I didn't feel too guilty. But I will meet up with kidsdoc, Whisper1, brenpike & tloeffler this evening for dinner.
I spent a lovely hour having dinner, dessert (she had already dined with the group but had desert with me), with Cariola last evening. Desert was a very decadent Baileys cheesecake. Ohhh, but to die for! And she is a fascinating woman. I could have sat with her for hours but needs must we meet the rest of the group. I missed dinner, having come back to the bed-sitter for a quick shower after our walk back from the museum but made it back in time for conversation. And my oh my, has there been a lot of that this weekend.

Editado: Maio 19, 2013, 3:42 pm

I finished Where'd You Go Bernadette? on the flight in and began Life After Life, both short-listed for the Orange. I can't say that I thought WYGB prize worthy though it was well written and I enjoyed it a great deal. LAL is another story altogether! It is wonderfully written, brilliantly thought out, has great characters that the reader really wants to know and is simply beyond wonderful. Unless something really wacky occurs between now & when I finish, this is a definite 5 * read for me. I was beginning to think that I would find no worthy candidates for a 5* Orange read this year so am thrilled.

Maio 20, 2013, 2:27 am

If only I lived closer to you guys. How I would love to meet up and share some of that conversation! I liked Bernadette. But it certainly isn't as deep as some others might be. I am planning to read Life after Life next!

Maio 22, 2013, 7:02 pm

Hi Belva! It was great meeting you this past weekend. Hopefully we will be able to meet again sometime.

You are moving along at a nice pace. I was looking at Where'd You Go Bernadette when we were at the book store. My sister's name is Bernadette and I was thinking of getting it for her just because it has her name in the title. I do want to read it because it looks different. Now you have piqued my interest in it along with Life after Life.

Well I need to go to watch Jeopardy and to also finish my ER book Something about Sophie.

Happy Reading!

Maio 25, 2013, 3:27 pm

Hi Monica. It was great to meet you as well. What a fun time!
I think you will enjoy Where'd You Go Bernadette. It is a bit different but quite good and very interesting. I don't think it Orange Prize worthy but I liked it a lot.

Maio 25, 2013, 3:37 pm

(note to self) Falling so far behind on reviews. Need to review:
The House of the Seven Gables,
The Collected Poems of W.B. Yeats,
Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail,
The World of Downton Abbey,
The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox,
Where'd You Go Bernadette?,
Life after Life, and
Lost Tribe: Jewish Fiction from the Edge.
I have been so busy with mother, brother and then the Meet-Up in Philly that I have pretty much been reading on the fly.

Maio 29, 2013, 4:05 pm

Les Miserables by Victor Hugo:

Why I read it at this time: I chose this book from the library of our dear englishrose60 to read in remembrance of her.

My thoughts and comments:

This is indeed a book that I loved and will read again over the years. Hugo has a way about writing that almost made me feel like he was attempting to lure my head from the story at times, but if so, he sadly failed. He tends to do what my mum calls "going off on a tangent". He gets caught up in a netherwind and is off and running with it for a while but then he brings it back to the story line and yes, it usually had some little/big something to do with one or the other of the characters, including Paris.
By the way, this is the best book with Paris as the backdrop that I have ever read.
So I really liked it; I cared very much about most of the characters. I think that the only character I actually detested was Thenardier. I liked how Hugo built his characters so they were multifaceted, layered and not just one dimensional. And he took the time to do it, which not all authors do; sometimes all parts of a character are described at once. But not here. Here, we actually got to see the growth (to the bad or the good) of the characters.
For me this was a reading experience of a lifetime. I highly recommend Victor Hugo's Les Miserables.

Maio 29, 2013, 10:31 pm

Thanks for the geat review rainpebble, Les Miserables has been lurking on my TBR pile for a few years, and I have been a little apprehensive about its size, you have convinced me to tackle it sooner !

Maio 30, 2013, 11:31 am

Bryan, it is truly a great read. I too was put back by the size and just the name Victor Hugo drew the trembles. But when I finally sat down to read it I was just sucked in and before I knew it, had completed the book. Truly...such a wonderful read. I am happy that you will be reading it and I look forward to your thoughts on it when completed.
Thanks for popping over. Nice to 'see' a new face.

Editado: Maio 31, 2013, 1:51 am

Hi there Belva! How is life treating you? I miss talking to you on a more frequent basis, so now that I have re-found your thread, you are starred! Great reads here. Have fun in Philly!! Make that, hope you had fun in Philly!!

Maio 30, 2013, 8:57 pm

I had a blast in Philly Kim. Thank you. It was so very nice to meet everyone & visit & laugh so much. The food was amazingly good. My only issue was that I felt the need to stay out of the bookshops as I travel so light, just a very small backpack & a bag for my electronics. I don't even carry a purse when I travel, just a wallet. So I had no room to carry books home. I took my Kindle & it was loaded for bear!~!
But surprise; Whisper1 talked me into starting a thread on the 75 gig so I am back on your stomping ground! She is great!~!
How are things with you & yours? I have missed our little chats.
Thanx for popping over & I will see you on your thread. I already have you starred.

Maio 31, 2013, 1:52 am

A thread on the 75 gig? I shall hunt you down there as well! ;0

Editado: Jul 28, 2013, 4:32 pm

The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox by Maggie O'Farrell

In the middle of tending to the everyday business at her vintage clothing shop and sidestepping her married boyfriend's attempts at commitment, Iris Lockhart receives a stunning phone call: Her great-aunt Esme, whom she never knew existed, is being released from Cauldstone Hospital—where she has been locked away for over sixty years.

Iris’s grandmother Kitty always claimed to be an only child. But Esme’s papers prove that she is Kitty’s sister Iris can see the shadow of her dead father in Esme’s face. Esme has been labeled harmless, sane enough to coexist with the rest of the world. But Esme is still basically a stranger. She remains a family member never mentioned by the family and one who is sure to bring life altering secrets with her when she leaves the ward. If Iris takes her in, what dangerous truths might she inherit?

Maggie O’Farrell’s intricate tale of family secrets, lost lives, and the freedom brought by truth will haunt readers long past its final page. An absolutely wonderful story. I loved it. 4*

Jun 1, 2013, 5:36 am

Two threads? How can you keep up with all those posts!

Editado: Jun 10, 2013, 5:08 pm

Copy & past man!~! lol!~! And I don't really get a lot of post on my threads so it's not bad.
But it makes it easier to keep in touch with those I met in Philly & that was one thing I wanted to do when I returned. A bit more time consuming than I would like but worth it.
How are you Judy? We are finally getting some decent (no rain, but overcast) weather here. We've had no sun since I got home. However I am just commenting and not complaining as I feel so badly for those in the paths of the tornadoes back in the Bible Belt.

Jun 1, 2013, 9:26 pm

Oh I'm good. Just back from a two week road trip through some inspiring countryside. We have also received some rain here in Melbourne, in fact we received our entire June average rainfall in 24 hours! Those tornadoes are unbelievable. The destruction they bring is terrifying.

Jun 1, 2013, 10:13 pm

I hope you had a good time on your road trip. Love road trips. We are planning one the week after the grands get out of school. We day-care them before & after school & their mum has taken that first week off with them so we are 'out of here'!~! Taking the dog, the trailer & hitting the road. Can't wait!
A month's rainfall in 24 hours is a lot Judy. You might have floated away. ;-)

Editado: Jun 2, 2013, 12:47 am

Who would like to be "Chairman of the World?"
Why, Stuart Little of course, by E.B. White; (4*)

This little family mouse is nobody's dummy and has adventures galore. Stuart is part of a family of 4. The 2nd child, he has an older brother who is human like their parents. But Stuart doesn't feel as if he is any the less for being a mouse. He is able to save many a day for mother, father & brother. The cat doesn't even bother him.
But when a little bird comes in and lives with the family for a time, Stuart must be on watch for he fears (and rightly so) that Snowbell the cat may just go after the bird who has become a friend to Stuart.
A charming little story and yet one I had not previously read. My children all read it but it is not one that I shared with them and I wish I had. I recommend this 140 page children's novelette to all children, old & young alike. It's a lovely little story.

Up next: Continuing my read of Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall and I am also reading Virginia Woolf's Monday or Tuesday: Eight Stories.

Editado: Jun 10, 2013, 2:43 am

For my summer online Bible Study we are reading anything: the prayer that unlocked my God and my Soul by Jennie Allen. I have come across a few simple eye openers thus far. We will take the full summer to read and study this along with our scripture studies.

Editado: Jun 10, 2013, 3:06 am

So while in Philly, Whisper1, tloeffler, brenpike & I were discussing Maurice Sendak. Linda has been reading his children's books and having lived in the Pacific Northwest all my life, I have been able to enjoy the wonderful world renowned Nutcracker ballet each year, on which choreographer Kent Stowell and author/illustrator Maurice Sendak collaborated.
So when I got home I just kept thinking about Sendak and finally decided that the only way I was going to get him off my mind was to read him. Isn't that the way of it? Anyway, I began reading some of his children's stories and am quite enjoying the little gems.
Chicken Soup With Rice:
"Each month is gay,
each season is nice,
when eating
chicken soup
with rice."
Alligators All Around:
"An alligator
with all
the letters-
A through Z."
"A story
with a moral air
about Pierre,
who learned
to care."

I am currently reading Tom's Midnight Garden by Philippa Pearce, a Y.A. novel which is just excellent. I think Whisper1's love of the Y.A. novels has rubbed off on me. ;-)

Jun 11, 2013, 5:06 pm

Today I received in the post Louisa May Alcott's Little Women: an annotated edition edited by Daniel Shealy and I can't begin to tell you what a wonderful edition of her book this is. A real treasure to add to my library. I got it on a reck from CurrerBell and am so thrilled that I went ahead and ordered it. Well worth the price.

Jun 12, 2013, 1:07 am

Tom's Midnight Garden by Philippa Pearce

Tom Long is a young lad with a brother, Peter, who has come down with measles. So Tom must be sent away to prevent becoming ill with them himself. His parents send him off to his aunt & uncle who unlike Tom, who lives in a house with a garden, live in a flat and have no outdoor space other than for the garbage bins.
Tom feels very neglected and alone. His aunt & uncle have no children for him to play with & he cannot go outdoors so he leads a very isolated and lonely life until ........... one night he hears the grandfather clock in the hall below chiming the midnight hour but it doesn't stop there. It chimes thirteen times. The clock keeps excellent time but chimes any number of times upon any given hour. Tom goes downstairs to check out the clock. While down there he decides to look out the back door which no one uses and see what, if anything is really out there. As he opens the door he smells the wondrous smells of a garden and sees lovely flowering beds, towering trees, paths, shrubs, hedges and a green house among other things. He has found a magical garden. He continues to go back night after night while his aunt & uncle are sleeping. He sees people in the gardens but they never see him. He follows three boys and a girl throughout the gardens and soon learns his way about. He climbs the trees which was something he and Peter loved doing at home and they spent a great deal of time at it. One day he realizes that the girl is looking right at him and not through him as all of the others do. That is when he meets Hattie who becomes his friend.
Throughout Tom's ventures out into the garden many changes occur. The weather changes. Sometimes it is day, sometimes night, sometimes summer, sometimes winter.
This is a lovely tale and a story that as one reads it, takes one back to happier bygone days when it was easy to believe in magical and wonderfully happy things.
I loved this little book and rated it 4 1/2 stars, highly recommending it to all children young and old alike.

Jun 14, 2013, 4:35 pm

Where the Wild Things Are; a wonderful Sendak tale of a lad who goes on an imaginary journey (via his bedroom) to a world of all manner of creatures. Excellent!

Very Far Away; another tale by Sendak about a little boy whose mother doesn't hear him because of business so he decides to go far, far away. Along the way he meets a horse, a cat, and a sparrow. They all decide to join him in the adventure. A very nice little tale.

Editado: Jun 25, 2013, 1:40 pm

Currently I am reading:
the ending of Hilary Mantell's Wolf Hall; whew! I thought it would never get here!
Honour by Elif Shafak;
Lost Tribe: Jewish Fiction from the Edge edited by Paul Zakrzewski and
Monday or Tuesday: Eight Stories by Virginia Woolf.

This is our little home away from home and we are heading out on a road trip for a few days or a week or so and I am hoping to have all of these completed by the time we return. We are excited to be getting away together.

Editado: Jun 25, 2013, 1:39 pm

Mensagem removida pelo autor.

Jun 15, 2013, 10:03 am

I might have to check out Lost Tribe. Hope you have a fabulous trip, with weather appropriate to your needs!

Jun 15, 2013, 3:26 pm

Thank you Meredith. It sounds like we will have fine weather. And Lost Tribe is wonderful. I hope you do seek it out.

Editado: Jun 15, 2013, 3:35 pm

The Selfish Giant by Oscar Wilde

This children's book is a beautifully told and illustrated story about a giant who has a lovely garden in which all of the children love to come and play. There are always butterflies, birds and all manner of wild life, lovely flowers and blossoms on the trees.
The giant has been away for many years visiting a friend and when he returns and finds all of the children playing in his beautiful garden he turns them out and builds a wall around the garden. It is his garden and he intends to enjoy it alone.
But strangely enough after a bit the flowers die, the birds stop singing and then stop coming, the butterflies no longer come and winter takes over the garden. The giant is puzzled and unhappy about this turn of events.
Then one day the children find a chink in the fence and return to the garden. The giant looks out and is astonished to see a child in each tree and the trees blossoming again, hear the birds singing again and winter fading away. Once more the garden is a delightful and beautiful place. All except one corner. The giant notices that winter remains in one corner of the garden. At the bottom of the tree in that corner is a little boy who is trying so hard to get up into the tree but just isn't tall enough. So the giant picks the little boy up and places him within the branches of the tree and immediately spring has arrived in this corner of the garden as well.
The giant is very happy, removes the garden wall and spends the remainder of his days watching the children play and playing with them in the garden. The giant watched the seasons change but was not sad about it for he knew that spring was just around the corner.
One winter day he is quite surprised to look out and see that the corner of his garden had blossoms on the tree. He had aged considerably by this time and slowly plodded out to the corner of the garden. The tree was covered in glorious blossoms, the leaves were golden colored and silver fruit hung abundantly from its branches. But the best thing of all is that his little friend whom he had lifted into the tree many, many years ago was beneath the tree. The giant opened his arms to the child but then stopped in anger as he saw where the child had been horribly injured with a wound in each of his palms and each of his wee feet. The injuries were prints of nails. The little boy spoke to the giant, telling him not to be angry; that the wounds were wounds of love.
The giant fell to his knees and asked the little boy who he was. The little boy spoke and said that a long time ago the giant had let him play in his garden and now he had come to take the giant to his garden which was called "Paradise".
When the children came into the garden that afternoon they found the giant lying dead under the tree, covered with white blossoms and with a smile on his face.
The artwork in this story is beyond lovely as is the story. I rated it 5* and highly recommend it to children young and old.

Kenny's Window by Maurice Sendak

Another 5* children's read. This one is about s little boy who dreams of a garden with a train and a rooster with four feet who gives Kenny a piece of paper. The paper has 7 questions on it and the rooster tells him that he must find all of the answers.
This is the first book where Sendak has accompanied his text with his very distinctive sketches. The artwork is very simple in this lovely little story. Very fitting and appropriate to the tale.
Another one I loved.

Jun 16, 2013, 12:48 am

I miss children's books. I was once a preschool teacher with a love of picture books. Then I was a children's librarian with a love of YA books. Now I'm just a lover of books. But even though I still read some YA, I don't read picture books any more sadly.

Have a great caravanning adventure!!

Jun 16, 2013, 12:49 am

Enjoy your road trip! And Maurice Sendak is wonderful, although I'm still so sad that he died.

Editado: Jul 6, 2013, 3:15 pm

Home again, home again, jigitty jig!

granddaughters Haley (on the L), her boyfriend in the background, & Rachel with her baby MacKenzie.

Had a great time with the grands & great grand. Managed to complete Wolf Hall & Honor by Elif Shafak. I am continuing to read Lost Tribe: Jewish Fiction from the Edge and Monday or Tuesday: Eight Stories. I have begun A Different Sky.

I am trying really hard to get some reading time in since we are now home. I have begun A Different Sky but the sweet darling man I am married to thinks it is time to be falling trees in the yard, bucking them & hauling them off. Yesterday he had me running the power saw, kid you not! So I have been falling into bed exhausted. Not getting much reading in and it is bumming me out. But hey, the sun can now hit the blueberry bushes that we love so much so we should get some berries this season. I know we will be back out there & at it as soon as he gets ready. Arghhhhhhh

I had to set A Different Sky aside as it was doing nothing for me. I am now reading When We Were Bad by Charlotte Mendelson and hoping it ticks the boxes for me. I hate when I am in a reading slump. But at least I am still happily feeding my guilty pleasure of the Sendak children's picture books.

Editado: Jul 6, 2013, 3:15 pm

Honor by Elif Shafak; Orange L/L 2013
(unable to find the correct touchstone for this book)

This is a beautifully written book of a Turkish family that comes to be separated by those going off to England & other places in an attempt to make a better life for themselves. One daughter, one of a pair of twins, remains behind and eventually grows into becoming a midwife. Her twin lives in England with her family.
This is a difficult book for me to review for there are so many story lines within these covers. But they were all easy to follow and very interesting. The book contains many incidents of great beauty and also many of horrific events. I learned about the Turkish/Kurdish cultures and appreciated the knowledge & sharing of this author.
I rated the book 4 1/2 stars and fully intend to read more by her. She is a beautiful writer. I highly recommend Honor to any who are interested in reading about cultures other than their own or indeed just wish to read a really good book.

Jun 29, 2013, 2:32 pm

The Elif Shafak book sounds so good, I'll definitely be looking for that one. Last December I set the goal of reading more authors from outside of the US, Canada, Australia, and western Europe, but I've not done a great job so far (I need to just plan out the books ahead of time, but I'm not good at that).

Editado: Jul 6, 2013, 3:33 pm

Honor was really good mabith. I hope that you do give it a try. I don't think you will be sorry. And that is a good goal to have for yourself. I just joined Reading Globally for the same reason and A Different Sky is my first book for that group. Like minds and all that.....
I ended up setting it aside. It just didn't work for me. Picked up When We Were Bad by Charlotte Mendelson and hope it works out better for me.

Editado: Jul 6, 2013, 3:31 pm

Little Bear:
Very cute picture storybook with 4 little stories:
What Will Little Bear Wear?, Birthday Soup, Little Bear Goes to the Moon & Little Bear's Wish.
A delightful story of of Little Bear & Mama Bear trying to keep Little Bear warm. Little Bear, of course, has help from Hen, Owl & Duck. Wonderful artwork of Maurice Sendak accompanies Minarik's stories of Little Bear. 4 stars.
A delightful children's picture book with the always splendorous artwork of Maurice Sendak. The expressions on the bears faces is priceless in this little book. A 4 star rating from me.
Father Bear Comes Home:
This is a precious chapter & picture book for children. The stories Little Bear and Owl, Father Bear Comes Home, Hiccups & Little Bear's Mermaid are priceless as is the artwork of Maurice Sendak. This is one of my favorite Else Holmelund Minarik/Maurice Sendak collaborations yet. And I love the Mama Bear & Little Bear interactions as well as those of Owl, Cat, Duck, Hen & Little Bear. 4 1/2 stars.
A Kiss for Little Bear:
A lovely little story of a thank you kiss that is passed from one friend to another in appreciation of a picture that Little Bear has drawn for Grandmother Bear & asked Hen to deliver to her. She in turn sends him back the thank you kiss via Hen, who passes it on to Cat, who in turn passes it on to Little Skunk who gives it to a sweet little girl skunk who gives it back, and it eventually is returned to Hen & finally to Little Bear. This is a delightful story. And in the the end wedded bliss for the little skunks. :-) 4 1/2 stars.
Little Bear's Visit:
A precious story of Little Bear paying a visit on his own to Grandmother & Grandfather Bear and the adventures that the three of them share for this very special day. I gave this one 5 stars!

Jul 6, 2013, 6:25 pm

Aw, I love the Little Bear books so much. A Kiss for Little Bear and Little Bear's Visit are certainly my favorites (and were my favorites as a child). The expressions on the animals faces in Kiss are just too priceless.

Jul 7, 2013, 12:52 pm

Aren't they though? I have never read these books before. What kind of mother was I? I read to my children daily & nightly but never came across these. I am finding the Little Bear books absolutely precious.
& thanx for popping over Meredith......

Editado: Jul 7, 2013, 12:54 pm

I am enjoying the truly whacked family of When We Were Bad. And they are really whacked out!~! Not a 'nermel' one in the bunch. But it is interesting.

Editado: Jul 8, 2013, 5:32 pm

When We Were Bad by Charlotte Mendelson

While I found the very first part of this book boring, about 1/8th of the way in it sucked me in and I read the rest in a fervor. Hopefully I have my reading 'mojo' back now.
The story of a very dysfunctional family with 4 questionably adult children, this book is all about the need of all to 'feed the queen bee'. The 'queen bee' being in this case the mother of the family, Claudia Rubin, who is a beautiful woman and a Rabbi.
Her husband and the father of her children, Norman, a secretly would-be author, writes articles and essays, etc. from home....in their house which is badly need of repair.
The eldest daughter, Frances, has no self confidence, no feelings of self worth and has married a man her mother chose for her who is the father of two young daughters and together the couple have an infant son. They have their own flat & she works outside the home while her husband plays house-husband but does it well. She is uninvolved with the children, and husband. At least as much as she can be.
The eldest son, Leo, works, lives at home, is engaged to be married to a nice Jewish girl but has fallen in love with a Rabbi's middle aged wife, the mother of grown children. Much to the chagrin & embarrassment of the families & congregations involved, he leaves his bride at the alter and runs off with the lady.
The younger son, Simeon, does not work, lives at home, is nocturnal eating only at night & leaves the kitchen a mess. He does drugs in the home of his parents and brings friends and girlfriends home as well.
The youngest daughter, Emily, has her own flat, but in general lives at home. She occasionally attempts to get parts in plays & that sort of thing but in general does not work either.
These are 'children' in their late twenties & early thirties. At the onset of the book, other than the indiscretion of Leo, the children & husband live only to make the Rabbi and matriarch look good.
Claudia goes all out at Passover time and for all the Jewish feasts. She prepares all of the Jewish kosher foods and all of the family is there plus many from the congregation and community. She and her family are much the focus of this bunch.
So this story is of the good deeds & of the failings of family members and the reaction of all, or more so the fear of the reaction to all to these events. The book is laugh out loud funny at times and tearfully sad at others. I enjoyed this read so much and hope to find other works by this same author. I rated When We Were Bad 4 stars and recommend it.

Next up: A Barbara Pym that I somehow overlooked in May, A Glass of Blessings.

Jul 15, 2013, 3:41 am

I have completed A Glass of Blessings and rated it 5 stars. It is my favorite Pym to date. I absolutely loved it flaws & all. I have moved on to Anita Brookner's The Debut and am enjoying it.

Jul 20, 2013, 10:51 am

I quite liked The Debut and rated it 4 stars.

Am now reading I'm Not Complaining, a Virago by Ruth Adam and enjoying it.

Editado: Jul 28, 2013, 12:16 am

I lay awake all night reading To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Each time I read it I tell myself that I am going to pace myself. But I simply cannot put it down once I've begun. It takes me over. Brilliant, wonderful, complex, simple....
This is the perfect American novel.

There have been so many good, great, and wonderfully written reviews on this book that I don't really see one more making any difference.
What I will say is that this is a book that does not leave your heart nor your mind when you have finished reading it. It is a work more brilliant than brilliant. The characters become immediately enmeshed in your heart and you care about them so very much. Even Mrs. Dubose and Aunt Alexandra. And Dill had me wrapped around his little finger from his first appearance on the page.
To Kill a Mockingbird is a beautiful work of prose and I won't soon forget it. I understand why my 95 year old mother reads it several times a year. It is, simply put, a book one falls in love with.

Editado: Jul 28, 2013, 12:16 am

Mensagem removida pelo autor.

Editado: Jul 25, 2013, 8:49 pm

Between Heaven and Earth by Sue Kerman

This book is supposedly fiction but I think a lot of it is based on truth as so many of the characters actually lived in the times spoken of.
The story begins as Rebecca, a young Jewish woman newly divorced and with no ties, inherits from her grandmother several boxes filled with letters, photos, newspaper clippings and many, many journals which had been stored and kept by her family for over 150 years. They belonged to a great great aunt of her grandfather, Zara Rubens, who had gone to Jerusalem and kept a record of her life there and also of the social and political climate occurring during her lifetime there. Now they are Rebecca's to care for.
As Rebecca begins going through the papers & photos her interest grows stronger and stronger. The story is told by Zara, by her letters & journals and by Rebecca who follows her strong urge to travel to the Holy Land, Jerusalem in particular, and learn first hand what had happened to Zara.
I could not help but race through this book. It is told in such an interesting way and it quite sucks one right into the story. At times I felt as if I were Zara.
I am so amazed that this book was not better received by previous readers as I found it to be a fascinating page-turner of a read. I highly recommend this book and gave it 4 1/2 stars out of 5.

Jul 25, 2013, 9:23 pm

225 - I might have to find that one! I've been going through all of my grandmother's papers and photographs (of which there are about 500). She died when my mom was a teenager, before my mom or her sisters could really know her as a person, and I'm endlessly curious (though I've just had to take a break from it, as I keep dreaming about my mother dying).

Editado: Jul 26, 2013, 12:14 am

Oh Meredith, I am sorry that these treasures are causing you night terrors. Hopefully they will end soon. The terrors, not the treasures.
And how wonderful that you have these papers & photos.
When my mother and my mother-in-law went into the Adult Care Facility here, my husband and I were entrusted with all of the family photos. No papers I am sad to say excepting that a week or so ago I came across my great grandfather's (on my mother's side) wallet & it has his identity papers from Germany in it. Mother is 95 so they go back a good way. I have been wanting to research our family's Jewish line but didn't know where or how to begin. She only told us kids about our Jewish heritage 6 years ago and I think she only told us then due to her dementia. I was thrilled to learn of it. And I think that with these papers I may just have a starting point.
I will be thinking of you. ((♥))

Jul 26, 2013, 8:47 am

They aren't really scary dreams or super upsetting when I wake up (they include odd stuff like me insisting my mom go and label all the plants in her garden), but I did start to feel a little dragged into the doldrums eventually. Mostly from the mystery element of her life, and just wanting to know the little things - what radio shows she loved, what her favorite movie was, etc... little things that would make me feel close to her. Hopefully I'll get a bit of that when I start plowing into her letters.

Wow, you'll have a lot to investigate! That will definitely be an interesting adventure. I had a friend from Russia who's mother told him a few years ago that they were Jewish and I know he went into a serious genealogy kick.

Editado: Jul 28, 2013, 1:00 am

Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah

Sometimes one just needs that good summer read and this was definitely that.
Kate is a girl in Jr. High who is always on the outside of it all. She has no friends, gets great grades, reads The Lord of the Rings over and over & is quite lonely. She lives with her mom, dad & brother on Firefly Lane. There is a vacant house across the street and one day she sees that some people have moved in. At the bus stop she meets Tully for the first time. Tully is her age and at first glance they really don't seem to have a lot in common.
Tully is tall, beautiful, has boobs already and is instantly popular at school with the girls & the boys. She ends up getting hurt by trying to be too cool and the only one to come to her rescue and defense is Kate.
Thus begins the story of their forever friendship.
The story goes through their high school years, their years at University of Washington and through their adult lives. Tully is all about the work, all about the career & while Kate wants a career she also wants to find love, happiness and settle down with a family. She had a wonderful example set for her by her family but Tully's father left before she was born and her mother is a doper who leaves Tully with her grandmother every couple of years to return for her four years later. And when the mother does have her, she doesn't parent her. She is too busy getting high to care what Tully does.
I found this book to be a page turner. It's quite thick but once I began it I didn't want to put it down. It's happy, it's nostalgic, it's funny, it's romantic, it's sad & heartbreaking; it's all the things a woman looks for in a summer read. I enjoyed it tremendously and am looking forward to the sequel. I rated it 3 1/2 stars.

Editado: Jul 29, 2013, 1:30 am

from May: (I am so very far behind on my reviews so am just catching up)
A Glass of Blessings by Barbara Pym

The protagonist of our story, Wilmet Forsyth, is a married woman with a comfortable and routine life. She and her husband live wih her widowed mother-in-law who leads a very full life. Wilmet does not need to work and lives a very shallow life of relative leisure. When not lunching or shopping she occupies her time with occasional good works at the behest of her mother-in-law and she becomes involved in the social life of her church. After a church service one day she renews her acquaintance with a close friend's attractive brother, Piers Longridge. She becomes infatuated with him & begins to believe that he is a secret admirer when in fact the secret admirer turns out to be her best friend's husband.
Wilmet doesn't realize that Piers is gay until she becomes aware of his relationship with Keith, a lower-class young man. We can come to no conclusion other than that when we learn that Piers and Keith live together in a romantic relationship.
Wilmet is shocked when she learns that her mother-in-law is planning to remarry and that she and her husband must find new digs.
I was absorbed by the characters in this book. The three priests, two living in the Parish House and one in a Parishioner's home, the friend who feels called to the Nunnery, the kleptomaniac caretaker of the Parish House and of course the major players. This is one of my favorite Pym's. I highly recommend it. 5*

Editado: Jul 29, 2013, 1:29 am

from June:
Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel

While I enjoyed this read I cannot say that I loved it or even found it to be anything extraordinary. I kept telling myself that it was just because I have read so much over the past 50 years on this subject matter and it wasn't until the last fourth of the book that I came upon anything in the least intriguing to me. But I don't think that is it at all. I think that we tend to feel that a book of this size & heft must be of amazing redemptive value. IDK. But I didn't find it so. I have read much slimmer volumes on this subject that I would have to rate higher than I did this one.
The subject matter I do and always have found to be of great interest. I was just expecting this one to bring more to the table, especially with all of the hype it received.
All of that being said this is the story of Henry the VIII, Cromwell & all of the secondary players that go along with this bit of history. I did enjoy the book enough to rate it 3 1/2* and enough to want to read the sequel. I hope it will fulfill my yearnings a bit more.

Editado: Jul 29, 2013, 1:30 am

from June:
Quartet in Autumn by Barbara Pym

Barbara Pym’s novels depict ordinary life among middle class Englishmen and women with compassion, humor, and irony. The quartet denoted in this title consists of two men and two women in their sixties and the autumn of their lives. These characters hold menial jobs at the same office in London. Two of them live in rented rooms and two own their own small homes. The opening chapter catches them going to the library because it is free. We are clued in to their personalities by describing their hair. Edwin’s hair is thin, graying and bald on top. Norman’s hair is as difficult as he is. Letty wears her faded brown hair too long and soft and wispy. Marcia’s hair is short, stiff, lifeless and home dyed.
Only Letty visits the library because she likes to read. The others take advantage of the shelter it offers. Edwin frequents the local churches when there are masses or holiday celebrations with sherry and perhaps free food. Pym describes their office routines, conversations, and uneventful lives. When Letty and Marcia retire, the deputy assistant director wonders what they have done during their working life. The activities of their department seemed to be shrouded in mystery. Something to do with records or filing, it was thought. Nobody knew for certain but it was evidently women’s work. The kind of thing that could easily be replaced by a computer.
Letty moves in with another woman and Marcia, alone in her house, wears her old clothes and forgets to eat. She resists the well meaning social worker knocking on her door. Letty begins thinking of her failures. She did not marry and she has no children. After some time Edwin arranges a reunion at a restaurant. Letty tries to be upbeat. She must never give the slightest hint of loneliness or boredom, the sense of time hanging heavy. Marcia complains about the social worker and brags about her operation, a mastectomy. She takes the bus to her surgeon’s house to spy on him and her encounters with him are her happiest moments. After Marcia’s decline into dementia and lonely death the three office mates meet at her house, which Marcia has willed to Norman. Here they divide up the contents of her cupboards. The tins of sardines, butter, beans and macaroni & cheese. They find an unopened bottle of sherry and toast each other as they remember their deceased friend.
I highly recommend this book. I liked it a lot. In fact I enjoy all of Pym's work. I rated it 4 *.

Jul 29, 2013, 1:28 am

from February:
Excellent Women by Barbara Pym

This story is set in the 1950s & our protagonist, Mildred, leads a quiet life. She is single, in her 30s & unattached. She lives off a small pension from her clergyman father's estate. She works part time for the Society for the Care of Aged Gentlewomen and does good works for the church. She is an 'excellent woman'.
Mildred is friends with the vicar, Julian, & his sister Winifred. Life becomes much more interesting for Mildred when Mrs. Napier moves into the flat that shares her floor's bathroom. Mrs. Napier is an anthropologist & is awaiting the return of her husband, Rockingham, who is returning from service in the Navy. Mildred gets involved in their lives when she realizes that Mrs. Napier appears to be having an affair with another anthropologist, Everard. She initially thinks of Rockingham as the perfect husband and Everard as being sketchy and difficult.
Another situation Mildred is pulled into is the new tenant at the vicarage, Mrs. Grey, who seems to have her sights set on Julian. Mildred does not approve. She thinks that Mrs. Grey is being deceptive.
Mildred slowly picks her way through these entanglements and comes to grips with her own feelings for the three men in her life. She begins to realize what she wants for herself. The ending appears to be a bit unexpected but is quite fitting with our understanding of Mildred.
This is a quiet, charming story of a woman making her own way in the world and I quite liked it. 4*

Jul 29, 2013, 1:57 am

from April:
The House of the Seven Gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne

This is the story of the Pyncheon family that is slowly becoming extinct. We meet Hepzibah Pyncheon, poor and old, who lives alone in the family mansion. This house was built with seven gables, thus the title. Without funds Hepzibah opens a penny shop to earn money to live on. Other characters in this tale are her brother Clifford, imprisoned because of the acts of Jaffrey Pyncheon, a wealthy judge who lives in his own country manor and is determined to find an ancient deed to other Pyncheon property.
When the penny shop seems to be failing the young Phoebe Pyncheon appears. She is a lovely, vivacious, and enthusiastic young woman who lives in the country and has come to visit her cousins. She enjoys running the penny store and brightens the gloomy atmosphere in the house. When Clifford returns from prison she entertains him with her charms. In addition she meets Holgrave, a young boarder in the house and romance blossoms.
This story is often considered a romance but I think it is more a story about the Pyncheon family and the curse it endured. Hawthorne sets the stage by giving us an overview of how the original Pyncheon obtained the property and built the house. His actions brought about a curse from the original land owner that is to last throughout the family's existence.
There are ghosts and strange occurrences in the house and we are exposed to the lives of former residents. But life improves for the current residents when another tragedy strikes the Pyncheon family, particularly the judge. Hepzibah and Clifford temporarily leave their ancestral home. It all comes to a climax as the author weaves the tale into an ending that is unexpected but makes the reader smile. Many like to look at the symbolism used to represent aspects of the human condition. I have never been certain that Hawthorne chose to approach the novel in this manner. Nevertheless I like this tale more each time I read it. 4*

Jul 29, 2013, 2:20 am

from April:
The Collected Poems of W.B. Yeats by William Butler Yeats

William Butler Yeats has a gift for language even when the subject of his poetry falls into the repetition of Irish myths. His way with words is astounding and his poems about God and angels speak to me.
There is no doubt that he is a Shakespeare with his words, but he is always good and very enjoyable especially on rainy days.
One of my favorite poems:

"A mermaid found a swimming lad,
picked him for her own,
pressed her body to his body,
laughed; and plunging down,
forgot in cruel happiness
that even lovers drown."

Pure magic. I love this book of poetry. 4*

Jul 29, 2013, 2:46 am

from April:
Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Coast Trail by Cheryl Strayed

At 22 Cheryl thought she had lost everything. Her mother had died, her family was scattered and her marriage was soon history. Four years later with nothing more to lose, she made a spur of the moment decision to hike the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington and to hike it alone. She was not an experienced distance hiker and the trail was little more than “an idea, vague and outlandish and full of promise.” But Cheryl thought it just may pull her life back together.
She came face to face with rattlesnakes and black bear. The heat was unbearable and she suffered record snowfalls. But she also learned the beauty of this trail & of nature. And she learned to be alone. The story is told with suspense and is imbued with warmth and humor. Cheryl describes the horrors and the wonder of forging ahead against all odds on a journey that frustrated, strengthened, and in the end healed her psyche.
I know that scores of people loved this book. And while I found it to be fairly interesting & I did want to know how it ended, it just didn't quite work for me on many levels. But hey, that's just me. I rated it 2 1/2 stars.

Editado: Jul 29, 2013, 3:02 am

from April:
The World of Downton Abbey by Jessica Fellowes

This 'coffee table' book is a lovely pictorial of the making of the hugely popular U.S. series Downton Abbey. There are photos and the telling of how they filmed the show from the making of the actor's wardrobes, to the cooking, to the laundry, to the filming, staging, etc. It is the perfect companion piece for anyone who, like myself, loves the show. 4*

Editado: Jul 29, 2013, 3:26 am

from May:
Where'd You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple

This was a whale of a tale, a roller coaster ride, a whimsical, often hysterically funny story about a wife & mom who disappears from the lives of her friends, neighbors, her daughter & husband.
Bernadette Fox is mysterious, aloof, creative, and a mixture of many things to many people, from her Microsoft guru husband, to the fellow parents at the school her daughter attends, and finally, to her daughter Bee herself. Different things to different people, some might say Bernadette is her own worst enemy.
How can you pinpoint the moment when things went wrong for her? Should we blame it on Seattle? Or perhaps on what happened to the Twenty Mile House she designed in LA? Or Bee's heart problems and the many surgeries she needed before she was even five.
Now a precocious teen, Bee would tell you that she is not sick and that she barely remembers any of the surgeries or illnesses that plagued her early years.
This story is told in the form of e-mails & in the first person voice of Bee. As the picture of who Bernadette is starts to come together, Bernadette mysteriously disappears two days before Christmas and before a planned family trip to Antarctica. Then we must not only discover who Bernadette is but WHERE she is.
Where'd You Go, Bernadette? reads like a memoir, a mystery novel, or a psychological profile. Just when we begin to think that Bernadette is truly mad we learn something that changes our perception of who she is. By the time we reach the end of her story we can definitely say that Bernadette is one of the most unforgettable people we've ever met. She is not just a character in a book. She comes to life on the pages and we, or I, found myself racing through this book wanting to find out who Bernadette really was and where she really was.
I enjoyed this read so very much. What a romp! 3 1/2 stars.

Jul 29, 2013, 3:49 am

from May:
Life After Life by Kate Atkinson

When I first read the plot line of Kate Atkinson's Life After Life I immediately wondered how Ursula Todd would come back to life. Would it be like the movie Groundhog Day with all the frustration that came with not being able to escape the loop? Would she be aware of what was happening? Would other people be aware of what was happening to her? No matter how many possibilities I envisioned I was still surprised by the way Kate Atkinson crafted this plot. She wrote this story with such ingenuity and originality. It was never simple nor trite. I think that every time I feel déjà vu in the future I will think of this book.
Much of the story took place in London during the Blitz of WWII. These pages were frightening and heart wrenching. I could not put this one down once I began it. Atkinson gives the reader a very vivid view of war. She allows us to see its enormity and how distressing and wearing it is for all involved.
Life After Life is beautifully written and reads like a classic. Wonderfully complex, it's a story you could read over and over and always find something new and fresh. I loved this story and know that it won't be long before my next read. I gave it 5 stars.

Jul 29, 2013, 4:40 am

from June:
Lost Tribe: Jewish Fiction from the Edge by Paul Zakrzewski

Paul Zakrzewski's collection of contemporary Jewish-American fiction is that rare anthology that adds up to more than the sum of its parts and is well worth discussing. While the stories vary in literary quality and entertainment value they offer a cross section of the youngest generation of American Jewish authors and through them, the youngest generation of American Jewish adults.
This is a valuable book of uneven stories about massively screwed up Jews. I knew it was an important book when I first saw it in a small used book shop recommended to me by CurrerBell at the Philly Meet-Up. And I wasn't mistaken. After reading these shorts I feel that it is an even more important book than I originally thought. Of course just having found out 6 years ago that I am part Jewish has given me a hunger for all things Jewish.
Zakrzewski has done well to collect stories from a comprehensive selection of younger authors and some of them you may have heard of. Nathan Englander, Jonathan Safran Foer, Gary Shteyngart, & Myla Goldberg, just to name a few.
Some of the stories are new though many are reprints of previously published pieces or sections from novels. The picture of Jewish life painted by Lost Tribe is bleak.
How tense, haunted, and heavy laden are our Jewish youths?
First there’s sex. Just about everyone—from the secular to the Orthodox to the post-Soviet immigrant weighs in with his or her own romantic woes. These range from the quaint to the downright disturbing. The most successful of these pieces is the quiet "Leah" by Havazelet, the longest story in the book, which shares the ideals and realities of marriage over the course of two girls’ lifetimes.
And where would any book of Jewish stories be without the guilt angle? Survivor’s guilt, the guilt of those who never suffered, the guilt that comes with beginning to forget what should never be forgotten. There is a guilt complex to cover them all in the second section of Lost Tribe. The story "How to Make It to the Promised Land" shows the horror of Nazi Europe through an American Jewish summer camp where history is transformed into a Capture the Flag like game. The concept is at once surreal and remarkably true-to-life if I understand it correctly. But clever concepts are easier to find in these stories than emotional wells. The struggle future generations will face in dealing with the Holocaust & the guilt of not feeling as bad as we should.
Lost Tribe presents, as the subtitle declares, Jewish Fiction from the Edge though when you think about it, the edge is where Jewish fiction has been coming from since its very beginnings. I rated this one 4 1/2 stars.

Jul 29, 2013, 10:28 pm

The Solace of Leaving Early by Haven Kimmel

Langston is an angry young woman. She has abandoned her PhD and a meaningless love-affair. Financial circumstances force her to move back in with her parents in the small middle American town in which they live. Here, self-absorbed and irritated by everything, even the death of a childhood friend fails to snap her out of it.
But the death causes ripples within the community & in her life via the two traumatised children left behind. Under the ever watchful eye of her mother & the local preacher, Amos, Langston is saddled with their care and through them eventually learns to value life again.
The Solace of Leaving Early is a moving and thought provoking story about discovering how other people can change your life when you least expect it. With gentle humour, beautiful prose and much empathy this is one of those books that I will read and reread and tell all of my reading friends about. I loved this story and gave it 4 1/2 stars.

Editado: Jul 29, 2013, 11:05 pm

Father's Flying Flapjacks by Else Holmelund Minarik; (4*)
A very cute little tale of Father Bear & Little Bear cooking up a mess of pancakes to feed eat when Mother Bear gets home. I especially liked the parts where Little Bear in helping "cracks an egg." "Oops! It's on the floor." And Little Bear goes to flip a flapjack and "Dear me---it's on the floor."

76. Little Bear's Loose Tooth by Else Holmelund Minarik; (4 1/2*)
This is the story of how of Little Bear's friends: Cat, Duck, & Emily attempt in all manner of ways to dislodge Little Bear's loose tooth. Very sweet story.

77. Little Bear's Friend by Else Holmelund Minarik & illustrated by Maurice Sendak; (5*)
Oh, and a new favorite for me. In this little book Little Bear meets a new friend. A little girl named Emily who packs her doll, Lucy, around with her and who enjoys getting to know Cat, Duck, Owl and Hen. They have a party hosted by Owl and share all manner of fun.

78. Little Bear and the Marco Polo by Else Holmelund Minarik; (4*)
This one is the story of Grandfather Bear sharing the story of his ship (in dry dock) and sailing adventures with Little Bear.

79. Lost in Little Bear's Room by Else Holmelund Minarik; ((4*)
The tale of Little Bear who with Mother Bear's help spends the day searching and searching for Fisherman Bear all through the house.

80. Little Bear's New Friend by Muriel Pepin; (5*)
This particular book is not associated with Maurice Sendak but I enjoyed it so very much and yes, also the artwork. It is about the Bear family getting ready for "their long winter nap". They all fall asleep in there nice cave except for little bear. He is unable to sleep and decides to wander out into the snowy day in search of fun & friends. He runs and tumbles in the snow and soon, just as he thinks he is lost, he meets a new friend. A little wolf pup has come out to play. The little wolf shows the little bear how to slide down hills and across frozen ponds.
But soon Mother Bear wakens and realizes her little cub is gone and she hurries out to find him. She meets up with the Mother Wolf and they Grrr at each other but then they talk and both realize that they are each looking for their babies. Together they go searching and they come upon the little pup & little cub's pawprints in the snow. So they follow them and do you know where they led them? The prints lead them to the bear cave and inside what do you expect they found? Why, one little wolf pup sound asleep in a pile of 3 sleeping bear cubs. Just too sweet.

Jul 31, 2013, 9:37 pm

The Sweet Dove Died by Barbara Pym

I's a bit difficult to write a review on this book after reading those of brenzi, Heaven-Ali and lauralkeet. They have all three done an exceptional job with their reviews.
I will begin by saying that I did not find Leonora totally unredemptive. I will agree that she was totally absorbed with self but she did attempt to be kind to the neighbor with all the cats and she tried to hide some of her dispicable qualities from others at times. But she really was self absorbed and only thought of others as in regards to herself.
It is my understanding that Ms. Pym wrote The Sweet Dove Died based partly upon a relationship she had with a younger antique dealer.
This is the story of Leonora Eyre. She is a fading beauty, wealthy & self-centered. She has always traded on her looks, her charm and enjoyed the many admirers who would come to take her out for quaint little dinners and make her presents of flowers, books and small Victorian antiques.
As the story begins she has just met two antique dealers; 60ish widower Humphrey and his oh, so handsome 20ish nephew James. Humphrey, as most men do, falls for Leonora but Leonora falls for his nephew James. And thus begins a curious triangular relationship. Of course all is perfectly innocent though not by the desires of some of those involved. Things become increasingly complicated when Leonora discovers that James has a girlfriend of sorts; the rather hippieish Phoebe. She is just about able to deal with this development when she is completely undone by James who has returned from Spain having begun a romantic relationship with Ned, a selfish but attractive American academic, whom he met on holiday.
The mood of this book is a bit or actually much darker than most of Pym's works. But I think that all in all I appreciated it more than some of her earlier works which are much lighter. She is a wonderful writer and I enjoy all of her books. 4 1/2 stars.

Jul 31, 2013, 10:18 pm

The Debut by Anita Brookner

This story follows Ruth Weiss, a young woman who lives a meaningless life overshadowed by her parents, George and Helen. Helen formerly counted herself among the B actors in London. Now she rarely leaves her bedroom. George formerly ran an antiquarian book store where he did less selling than fussing.
Ruth at some point attends he University where she studies Balzac. I suppose this book has some intertwining of themes with Balzac that will make it more meaningful but as I've not yet read him I did not pick up on them if they were there.
All three lead pathetic lives. Ruth moves back in with her parents because a date shows up late. Helen can’t be bothered to do anything except lay in bed and recount tales of her glory days. George sells the store but drops in daily to help the new owner because he has nothing better to do with his life. The only character who participates in her own life is Mrs. Cutler, the housekeeper. At first she is pretty sad herself. But at some point she gets moving and decides to find herself a husband. Not that people must be married but at least it showed some gumption on her part. The others have none. So perhaps there is some intended meaning to be gained from examining the life 'not lived'.
All of that being said I suppose one would think that I did not care for this book but I did. I cared for it a great deal and found it to be very well written & very interesting. This was my first Brookner but it won't be my last.
4 stars.

Ago 1, 2013, 1:24 am

Well, ALL VIRAGO/ALL AUGUST has begun so that is what I will be focusing most of my reading on this month. I am excited to begin it with Mary Hocking's Good Daughters. I am hearing such good things about this book.

Ago 1, 2013, 9:34 pm

I have enjoyed reading all of your reviews. Some great stories amongst them. I'm pleased you liked Bernadette and Life After Life. They were such memorable stories. I have decided to grow an extra head so I can read Barbara Pym. I just can't seem to manage to read everything I want to with only one set of eyes!

Ago 3, 2013, 1:01 pm

Isn't that just how it goes Judy? Too little time & so many books, good books.
***holds head & sighs***

Ago 4, 2013, 1:38 am

I just completed Good Daughters, the 1st in a series by Mary Hocking and was not disappointed at all. The images of Alice going nose to nose with God in that last sequence will probably be running through my head for a few hours or perhaps longer.
I liked most of the characters and the ones I didn't, I thought needed to be the way they were for the story-line to work out the way it did. I am looking forward to beginning Indifferent Heroes, the 2nd of the series, when I head to bed shortly.

Editado: Ago 7, 2013, 1:38 pm

Good Daughters by Mary Hocking; 5 stars

This, the first volume of Hocking's trilogy spans both the years of wartime and the lives of one London family. The Fairley daughters are growing up in the traditional world maintained by their father. This world is shaken by the girls' discoveries of life and what comes with it.

Mary Hocking writes with humor and sympathy in her depiction of the Fairley sisters growing up in their close knit West London neighborhood before, during and after the war. In the first novel of this trilogy, the girls are sheltered in a world whose traditions of hard work and simplicity are upheld by their Methodist father and their strong, quiet mother. But as love comes to Louise and adventures tempt Alice, unsettling emotions & thoughts lurk amid terrible rumors traveling from Germany -- rumors of the catastrophe to come. Claire, the baby of the family is young enough to be so busy with her friends & play that she is unaware for a time of the things to come & realization only comes as she becomes aware of her reactionary family.

I found this to be a lovely, moving and satisfying book on so many levels and I immediately moved on to the 2nd of the trilogy, Indifferent Heroes.

Ago 8, 2013, 8:36 pm

I like the sound of those books. I'll add them to the wishlist.

Ago 9, 2013, 12:34 am

If you enjoy books of that era Judy, I think you will like them.

Editado: Ago 10, 2013, 10:59 pm

Indifferent Heroes by Mary Hocking; (4 1/2*)

In this, the second of the Mary Hocking WWII trilogy, the storyline moves from the Fairley family to particular members of the family and how their lives change & how they deal with those changes throughout the War. The story is told mainly through the lives of the eldest daughter, Louise & the middle daughter, Alice.
Louise is now married & the mother of two, whose husband is off to war. The time is interminable for her and she needs diversion. Not for her the war-time volunteer work nor church work that seems to keep her now widowed mother, Judith, sane and busy.
The middle daughter, Alice has joined the Wrens and is occupied with travels to far off places where she is needed for the war-effort. She seems to not quite fit in with the other girls who are more free with their favors but seems to spend most of her free time pondering her life, her future and her friendships. She falls in love with a man who is gone to war also and much of her time is taken up with letters to him.
There is not a whole lot about Claire, the youngest of the three daughters, in this book. She still appears to me to be the spoiled darling of her youth and not grown up at all.
I enjoyed this book a great deal, just not quite as much as the first of the trilogy.

Next up: the third & final of the Hocking trilogy, Welcome Strangers.

Ago 11, 2013, 7:48 pm

Now that is a parcel to look forward to!

Ago 11, 2013, 8:56 pm

Ooh, what fun! I'm especially curious about the Gaskell and Streatfeild, of course.

Ago 12, 2013, 10:19 am

Judy, I am very much looking forward to receiving this particular parcel.
And Meredith, I will let you know my thoughts on those two when I've read them.

Ago 12, 2013, 10:23 am

Happy Thingaversary! I did not know about the book buying tradition for one's Thingaversary, but since I've been inexplicably good and have not bought ONE SINGLE BOOK this year, come November I'm buying 7!

Editado: Ago 12, 2013, 10:29 am

Welcome Strangers by Mary Hocking; (2 1/2 stars)

WW II is over and the troops are coming home. Lots of good stuff here, right? Wrong! While I agree that Ms. Hocking needed to wrap up all of the bits from the first two books of her Good Daughters WWII trilogy I cannot say that I loved how she did it. Many of the background characters came to the forefront of the storyline for their bits while the main characters sat on the back burner for quite some time. Becoming so involved in the Fairley family throughout the first two books, along with those most important in their lives, I wanted to remain with them. Technically I suppose we did but it was in a rather round-about manner.
The three sisters & their mother did remain true to the personalities they had displayed in the first two books which was a relief. But the book meandered too much for my taste. I am glad I read it for I would have been rather unhappy not to have learned what became of Louise, Alice & Claire. Still and all it was too little of them for my taste and I found it difficult to remain focused on this book whereas the first two sucked me in and held me tight. So while I very highly recommend the first two of the trilogy: Good Daughters & Indifferent Heroes, I cannot do so for this one.

On to The Other Woman by Colette & The Orchid House by Phyllis Shand Allfrey.

Editado: Ago 23, 2013, 12:14 am

I have now completed The Other Woman, 3 1/2 stars, The Orchid House, 4 1/2 stars & The Lifted Veil, 4 1/2 stars. I need to find time to get reviews on them thrown up. (Ewww!....that didn't sound good)
Am on my next read, High Rising by Angela Thirkell. It is very enjoyable thus far.

Editado: Ago 18, 2013, 10:05 pm

The Lifted Veil by George Eliot; 4 1/2 stars

I did not find this to be a lovely book, but I am not going to be considered a very literate person after my little point of view is down on paper, so to speak.
I thought The Lifted Veil to be quite brilliant. As I read, I felt myself looking into the man's mind and also found myself to be momentarily taking on his mental persona as well. I was not bored. I was not piqued. I was not grossed out. The book did not depress me, nor did it make me nervous nor anxious. I was nothing but a person within another person's ill mind. There was very little within the book that was literal and not simply in his mind.
Yes, I thought it very different and as I said rather brilliant; much as I found Dracula when I read it the first time.
And I am one who could not read past the treatment of the horse in Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment.
Sorry ladies and gentlemen of the jury. I shall, most likely, be the only one here with this opinion. But then too, I am probably the only one here who has been on a psyche ward for depression, anxiety and panic attack as well. I cannot say if that colored my reading of this book.

Editado: Ago 26, 2013, 5:00 am

I have completed the often times hysterically funny High Rising by Angela Thirkell, 4 1/2 stars, & have also read The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, 5 stars, & The Clothes on Their Backs by Linda Grant, 3 stars. I am nearly finished with The Very Dead of Winter by Mary Hocking and then will be reading The Newspaper of Claremont Street by Elizabeth Jolley. I am amazed that with everything going on this month I have got this much reading in. Quite pleased.

Ago 26, 2013, 5:00 am

I have almost completed The Newspaper of Claremont Street & will be moving on to The Aloe by Katherine Mansfield.

Ago 26, 2013, 11:16 pm

The Other Woman by Colette; four stars

Colette's grouping of short stories is gripping, oft-times creepy, eerie, fascinating and a myriad of other descriptive phrases. She writes beautifully & evocatively of realms that one's mind would never traverse on it's own.

In The Fox, a man walks his fox on a tether in a glen while another takes his pet hen. At first the man with the hen worries but the owner of the fox convinces him that the hen is no danger from the fox and indeed she isn't...........yet.

The Hand is definitely the creepiest of these shorts for me. A young newlywed couple is lying in bed, the husband's head upon his wife's shoulder as he sleeps. And as he sleeps she lies awake thinking that she is too happy to sleep. She admires his long eyelashes, his beautiful mouth & notes that his brow is free of wrinkles. She turns her head and looks at his hand lying beside her as he has fallen asleep with his arm around her. She notices the hugeness of the hand and that his nails are varnished. Suddenly she is aware that the hand differs from what she has previously observed. 'And I've kissed that hand!'... How horrible! I can't ever have looked at it!' she thinks to herself.

And the stories continue in this vein. I think Colette's stories are quite brilliant even if I was a bit creeped out by them. I enjoyed them a great deal even if I was a bit creeped out by them. I wish there were more even if I was a bit creeped out by them.

Ago 27, 2013, 12:05 am

The Orchid House by Phyllis Shand Allfrey; four & 1/2 stars

The Orchid House is a house that each of the three daughters in this story ran to when they needed to get away as children. And now as the three of them return one by one to their native Dominica they find themselves turning to the old habit of going there seeking the solace they hope to find. Their dear but very ill friend Andrew lives there with his mistress and their baby girl.

The girls: Stella, Joan & Natalie, were raised on the island of Dominica, cared for by the native woman Lally who is the narrator of our story. Now Lally cares for the children of the returning daughters of the family home, L'Aromatique.

All three of the sisters have married. Stella, married with a son & living in the United States, Joan, the political activist, also married & also with a son & Natalie, the youngest, returns to the homeland a widow but a very rich widow.

The story has not much of a plot but is character driven and I found myself enthralled by it and did not wish it to end. I find this one to be very difficult to review for many reasons that I do not really understand myself. I think that for me this is going to be a book that I can read again and again.

Editado: Ago 27, 2013, 1:14 am

High Rising by Angela Thirkell; 4 1/2 stars

This story is a hoot!~! The first of many in the Barsetshire series, I loved it. The characters this author has thought up....oh how I do hope they appear in the next & the next & the next books of the series.

The main character Laura, reads the most bizarre combination of books. We find her reading Death in the Potting Shed, Bleak House, The Bucket of Blood, The Butcher's Revenge, Omnibus Book of Blood, Torture and Disease, The Noseless Horror, & Who'll Sew His Shroud?. And she is a writer of books, no less. There is also a mention of a writer, Miss Hocking, who is in need of a secretary or typist for her manuscripts.

I am not going to bother writing a review on this one for if you go to the book page there is a wonderful review written by Cariola that lends me to think no others are necessary. Suffice it to say I cannot wait to get along to the second in this series, Wild Strawberries.

Editado: Ago 27, 2013, 2:00 am

The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman; 5 + stars

This little book is perfection. It is a star & bare 36 pages & a beyond perfect 5 star read for me. It is the tale of a young woman, told from her POV, falling into the pit of madness. She is unknowingly helped along by her husband who is a doctor & others who should know better.

It begins as the husband takes an isolated house for them for the summer. He feels that his wife will get better if she doesn't have many distractions. His sister Jane comes along to help care for the woman.

She spends her days on the top floor of the house alone for the most part yearning to write but her husband doesn't think that writing is a good thing for her to be doing now. She needs to rest, not worry nor concern herself with anything and get well. He doesn't like her walking out for it may tire her and she needs to be resting.

The room upstairs is papered with ugly yellow wallpaper. Within the pattern of the wallpaper she sees changes occurring as the light changes. New shoots seem to grow within the pattern and forms appear to undulate in the paper. It changes day by day. The woman begins to see faces within the paper and as her madness deepens she thinks that a woman comes out and walks on the pathway outside the house.

Her husband thinks that she is getting better because as she gets deeper & deeper into the wallpaper she becomes happier, begins eating again. He doesn't know it is because she has found something with which to occupy her time and thoughts and that actually she is falling deeper & deeper into a world of madness.

This book is genius. I am so thankful that I picked it up. Charlotte Perkins Gilman is a brilliant author. I hope she has written a great many books for there is a hunger in the pit of my gut for more such as this.

Ago 27, 2013, 1:59 am

The Clothes on Their Backs by Linda Grant; 2 stars

Vivien, our protagonist, is a young sheltered woman who has lived her youth in the care of her meek & cloistered parents who are Hungarian refugees of their war torn homeland. To her knowledge there are just the three of them.
Eventually she realizes that she has an uncle. Her father's estranged brother who also came to the new country to make his fortune. And make it he did until he was found out by the housing authorities and arrested for his slumlord activities. By the time that Vivien, unknowingly to her parents, makes his acquaintance he has spent many years in prison. She is fascinated by the fact that here is a relative of hers and she wants to get to know him but they each keep secret from the other that they know who the other is. He wants to write his memoirs and needs a typist. She goes to work for him typing up the notes that he speaks into a tape recorder.
Her parents of course flip out when they find out and so it goes.
I know from the title & from reading other reviews that our Vivien invents & reinvents herself through the clothes & outfits that she puts together & wears. But this ploy didn't work for me. I have read Grant before & loved what I read. This time I just liked it. I liked the premise of the story but thought that it took an awfully long time to be told, longer than my interest actually held.

Ago 27, 2013, 2:25 am

The Very Dead of Winter by Mary Hocking; 4 stars

A very appropriate title for this book; The Very Dead of Winter. Konrad is dying. His wife Florence wants to take him and have their two children, Nicholas & Anita, meet them at her sister, Sophia's home deep in the wood. The house belonged to the sister's grandmother before them and they almost always spent the holidays there with all of the family. Sophia has never married and lives there with her nearly feral cat and a few neighbors scattered throughout the wood.
They all drive the dangerously icy roads to Aunt Sophia's and arrive safely except for Anita's boyfriend who comes on alone and is in an accident & taken to the nearest house with several bad breaks in his body. We don't see nor hear too much of him. But we do get to meet most of the neighbors as they are invited in supposedly to cheer up the younger siblings. It doesn't work. They remain grumpy throughout most of the time there.
Konrad is put to bed upstairs and is medicated and sleeps or drowses most of the time but there is always someone sitting with him for they know he is not going to get well and will most likely not live to return home. Sophie sees this before the others.
During their time there, the family comes to see that Konrad and Sophia know each other much better than was assumed. He is a painter and Florence has not appreciated his paintings. She thinks them too dark. So he went away much of the time to do his painting. She never asked him where he went. But while at Sophia's, she & the children soon realize that this is where he went to do his painting and that he and Sophia are indeed close.
This is called a "haunting novel" but I did not find it so. Neither did I find it to be mysterious. There is a lot of emotional interacting within the players in the story and I think it a marvelous story. It just wasn't what I was anticipating. I find Mary Hocking to be a lovely writer. She never disappoints.

Ago 27, 2013, 2:43 am

The Newspaper of Claremont Street by Elizabeth Jolley; 3 stars

And this is a Jolley good read!
Weekly or Newspaper is the main character of this novel. Called that because she is a cleaning lady for the inhabitants of Claremont Street and because as she is in & out of most every house on the street not much occurs that she doesn't see or hear about. She is depended upon for little newsy tidbits.
Weekly works very hard. From sunup to after dark every day but Sunday she cleans. She lives in a bedsitter and doesn't pay rent for her room because she cleans the halls, bathrooms, and the steps every morning before she leaves to go do her houses for the day. Her dream is to have a bit of land out in the valley and she lives very cheaply, eating bread & vegetables so that she can save most all of the money that she earns toward her dream.
She is such an interesting character, fascinating actually. And things change in Weekly's life just as they do for all of us. Before she knows it a foreign gentleman she worked for dies and she finds herself moving his elderly wife in her single room with her and caring for her, supporting the both of them. This gal is an interesting character as well and I enjoyed the conversation matches the two of them shared.
I wish this book had been about twice as long as it was. I enjoyed it so much. I have never heard of this author but I will be seeking out more of her books.

Editado: Ago 27, 2013, 12:03 pm

I finally am caught up on my reviews for August and got only 4 hours of sleep. I have made myself quite grumpy with this procrastination. :-(

note to self:
Begin again to write reviews upon finishing the book.

Ago 27, 2013, 1:09 pm

I was disappointed by The Clothes on their Backs too. I very much enjoy Linda Grant, and I think this one was even up for the Booker (is that right?) or the Orange prize or something, and so it should have been great but wasn't.

Ago 28, 2013, 5:27 pm

You are quite right Jennifer. It was short-listed for the Booker & long-listed for the Orange. What were they thinking that year? And like you, I have greatly enjoyed this author in past readings. I expected The Clothes on Their Backs to be a great read and it so was not. But I will read Linda Grant again for I know her to be capable of wonderful writing.

Ago 29, 2013, 10:24 am


What a cute drawing !
Rating systems are useful, though I've never implemented one.
And what is this an Orange a Month ?

Re: 67 I really enjoyed the movie that was made of Julie and Julia I suppose someday I need to revisit it in book form.

re 235: Some of Yeats' poems are very beautiful. I have a thin illustrated volume Heaven's Embroidered Cloths: Poems (Poetry Series) that has one of my favorites, (discovered because of Charles De Lint's book Dreams Underfoot : He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven

Re: 266 The Yellow Wallpaper I remember reading this in a anthology so long ago, it definitely is a memorable read, if an unsettling one.

Had I the heaven's embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half-light,

I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

William Butler Yeats

So many tragic books, many I could never read. I find I read mostly for enjoyment -- which is usually something lighthearted, or Science Fiction, Fantasy or a Thriller, or to learn something new I'm interested in. But still an amazing pile read so far, cheers to you!

Ago 30, 2013, 11:07 pm

Hello Stephen & thank you for stopping by.
I understand what you are saying about rating one's books. And I think that most of us rate a bit different from others. I rate mainly for myself as years down the road I generally read classic books or books of importance to me more than once & rating them gives me a base line as my tastes do change over time.
The Orange of which I speak is an annual British Prize for women's fiction. I continue to call it the Orange Prize but it is now actually "The Women's Prize for Fiction". Much like the Man Booker, they come out with a long list of books nominated, then later with the short list of nominations, then mid-summer the winner is announced. There is an L.T. challenge for reading Orange listed or winning books in January & in July. Also there kidzdoc issued a challenge a few years ago for reading "an Orange a month". On the whole, this has been my favorite of all the 'Prize' lots in lit so I stick with this one no matter what other challenges I join.
Re: Julie and Julia, it was the movie that turned me onto the book. I loved the movie and watched it several times. I also liked the book a great deal!
And WOW! You are one of only five on L.T. who have Heaven's Embroidered Cloths: Poems (Poetry Series). And yes, I do enjoy Yeats a great deal. I will have to see if my library can get that one for me.
So glad you also appreciated The Yellow Wallpaper. It is a stunning bit of literature and a book that I would like to see not forgotten.
Your Yeats that you quoted at the end of your post blew me away. When my first husband and I were having troubles.......I copied that poem & gave it to him. It mattered so much to me. Turned out it mattered not a whit to him.
C'est la vie!
Most of my family members read for entertainment & enjoyment. I so as well but I find that most of the books I want to read make me think, ponder, haunt me, disturb me, etc. The books I read for enjoyment I generally read when my mind won't stop whirling.
Again, thank you for stopping by. It was nice chatting with you.

Editado: Ago 30, 2013, 11:14 pm

The Aloe by Katherine Mansfield; 4 stars

A very different little book or perhaps I should say a little book written very differently.
Mansfield writes almost poetically about a large family consisting of mother, father, 3 little girls, the grandmother & an aunt. It begins with the move of the family from the city to the country. Even in those days (the early 1900s) men commuted to the office by buggy. The grandmother, a wonderful character, & the aunt do all of the housekeeping along with a helper. Mother is indisposed throughout most of the tale. She spends much of her time ruminating & daydreaming of different ways of life & things ethereal.
The children spend their days running & playing, leading an idyllic childhood.
I must confess that I really didn't 'get' this story until near the end of the book when we are in Aunt Beryl's head. Then the light came on. And isn't it wonderful when that occurs? When suddenly you can say: "Aha, so that is what the author is trying to tell us."
The Aloe "was later reworked and shortened to become her acclaimed "Prelude". But this, the original, is very different - in style, detail and texture - giving us both a wonderful short novel and a fascinating insight into a classic of modern literature." (taken from the back of the book)

I am currently reading a piece of Virago nonfiction: The Bolter by Frances Osborne.

Ago 31, 2013, 2:37 pm

Yesterday was my THINGAVERSARY!~! Happy Happy to me! I only found out about this little/big/huge celebration this year so I have ordered enough books to celebrate every Thingaversary I missed since I joined on August 30th, 2007. Can't wait for them to arrive.


Ago 31, 2013, 2:51 pm

Aw, happy thing-a-versary! I only just found out about the tradition and realized mine is in six days.

Ago 31, 2013, 4:57 pm

My first year to realize it as well. And what perfect timing for you Meredith!
So you get to purchase a book for each year her plus one to grown on. Isn't it wonderful?

Set 8, 2013, 1:40 am

In the words of a (in)famous Australian politician . . "Please Explain?" I am not quite sure what the thing-a-versary is . .

Set 9, 2013, 4:52 pm

I think I must be following multiple threads of yours because I've seen these reviews... They're very good, so it's not a challenge to read them again. :)

I love the picture of your granddaughters and great grandson!

Editado: Out 4, 2013, 3:25 pm

WOOT WOOT!~!~! My favorite season of the year: FOOTBALL SEASON!

>280 TinaV95::
Oh Tina, thank you so much. I do too. :-)
And I do have multiple threads; here & on the 75 gig...but I am here mostly. Thank you for you for your very kind words.

Editado: Set 10, 2013, 4:36 pm

The Girl in the Polka-Dot Dress by Beryl Bainbridge; 2 1/2 stars

This was my first attempt with Beryl Bainbridge's writing and I must admit she seems to me to be an acquired taste. This particular story is filled with weird characterization and situations, unanswered questions and bizaar happenings. However, the action revolves around historical events and related persons; ie the Kennedys and specifically the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy.
Oddly enough, the fact that the novel has no traditional ending seems to fit extremely well with the book and that is the part that I was able to most identify with and appreciate. Even though this story confused me throughout most of it, I felt the need to finish the book. And strange as it may seem I also feel the need to try more of her work. Something about the way she writes draws me in but I found it to be off-putting as well so I really want to see how I am affected by other writings of Bainbridge.
And I must say that I love this title!

Set 10, 2013, 4:34 pm

The Cottage at Glass Beach by Heather Barbieri; 4 stars

I loved this book about relationships, the sea, mothers, daughters, aunts, with a bit of magic realism thrown in just for the savoring.
Our main character, Nora, has found out that her husband is having an affair and with their lives in the Boston limelight, as he is in politics, remaining in the city with their two daughters is too painful for her to bear as they attempt/or not to work things out.
Nora and the girls head back to the island where she spent her early childhood before her mother disappeared at sea. Her mother's sister, Nora's aunt, still lives there in the family home and the cottage where Nora's mother & father lived until shortly after her mother's disappearance is still standing empty as if waiting for Nora & her girls.
Friendships are built in a short time. The philandering husband comes to the island a couple of times to check up on his 'wife' & daughters and to try to talk Nora into a legal separation so things can maintain the status quo with the 'marriage' & the girlfriend. Seriously...........how stupid does he think his lawyer wife really is? The girls become fascinated with the sea, boating, with the seals & other marine life. They begin to sneak to the sea, playing with a boat there on the sand while Nora tries to decide what to do with her life.
I really liked this book. I enjoyed the characters and the way in which they related to one another. I liked the bit of romance and the tautness of the storyline with the girls in danger of the sea. A perfect read for a summer's day.

Set 10, 2013, 4:51 pm

Marmee & Louisa: The Untold Story of Louisa May Alcott and Her Mother by Eve LaPlante; 4 stars

I am so glad that I read this book. All of the other bios & historians I've read on the subject matter of the Alcott family led me to believe that Louisa's father, Bronson, was the man behind the success of Louisa's literary works. But within the covers of this book one sees what a true piece of limp milk toast he truly was while Abigail, Louisa's mother, worked her fingers to the bone to support the family, ruined her health with the hard work she did, begged from relatives and friends & all the while encouraged all four of her daughters to be the very best that they could be and even encouraged her sappy husband.
This biography written by a cousin of Louisa, has endless notations and quotes which if the reader uses them lets one know exactly where she got her material. Also she had access to letters, diaries, journals & papers that other biographers did not have as she was in the family.
Though the book is nonfiction it reads quite like a novel in that the reader does not get bogged down in the facts nor bored by the material. I actually found it to be quite a page turner. I enjoyed it a great deal.

Set 11, 2013, 6:10 pm

This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.

Gathering of Waters by Bernice L. McFadden; an ER/ARC; thank you; 4 1/2 stars

This book.........this book is hauntingly lovely while the subject matter is mostly not. The building of the characterization & subject material was not rushed so this reader had plenty of time to acclimate herself to the book, the people & the events of the story.
It is a novel based on the murder of Emmett Til in Mississippi back in the 1950s, a hate crime that would most likely have turned out much differently in this day. But in that day the black people of our Southern communities had much to fear even in their innocence.
The love story is small, short & yet HUGE. There is a daily violence & perversity within most of the families depicted here that may be difficult for some to imagine. But the story flows smoothly from event to event. I really liked the main character of the book when I finally figured out who it was for this is a generational story. And I did appreciate the bits of mystical surrealism that accompanies this story. In fact I found myself looking forward to the next bit that I knew
As an ARC/ER, Gathering of Waters did exactly what it needed to do, what it was meant to do and what many ARC/ER books do not. It sold me on Bernice L. McFadden as an author and I cannot wait to read something else by her. I highly recommend this one.

Editado: Set 11, 2013, 10:14 pm

I ordered a ton of books for my Thingaversary as I didn't find out about it until this year so I thought I could perhaps get away with it. Well, I got away with it but my VISA did not. :-(
Anyway here they are:

Pomfret Towers by Angela Thirkell
Before Lunch by Angela Thirkell
The End of Mr. Y by Scarlett Thomas and
A Dance to the Music of Time: the 2nd, 3rd & 4th Movements:
Summer, Autumn & Winter. Cariola has long since sent me the 1st Movement, Spring.

Nervous Conditions by Tsitsi Dangarembga
The Book of Not by Tsitsi Dangarembga
A Proper Garden by Elizabeth Sheldon
The Used World by Haven Kimmel
Something Rising (Light and Swift) by Haven Kimmel
Lois the Witch by Elizabeth Gaskell
Bad Girls of the Bible by Liz Curtis Higgs
The Brontes: A Life in Letters by Juliet Barker
Fly Away by Kristin Hannah

Editado: Set 11, 2013, 7:51 pm

The remainder of my self-gifted books for my Thingaversary are all Virago, some green, some not:

Winter Love by Han Suyin; Virago fiction
Gather Together in My Name by Maya Angelou; Virago Nonfiction
Singin' & Swingin' & Gettin' Merry Like Christmas by Maya Angelou; Virago Nonfiction
Letter to My Daughter by Maya Angelou; Virago Nonfiction
Tea by the Nursery Fire by Noel Streatfeild; Virago Nonfiction
Fenwomen: A Portrait of Women in an English Village by Mary Chamberlain; Virago Nonfiction

A Woman by Sibilla Aleramo; VMC #89
Four Frightened People by E. Arnot Robertson; VMC #84
Dancing Girls by Margaret Atwood; VMC #136
The Edible Woman by Margaret Atwood; VMC #23
Liza's England by Pat Barker; VMC #414
Luminous Isle by Eliot Bliss; VMC #156
A Lost Lady by Willa Cather; VMC #21
My Mortal Enemy by Willa Cather; VMC #77
The Other Woman by Colette; VMC #383; wrong touchstone

Editado: Set 12, 2013, 4:31 pm

The Old Man and Me by Elaine Dundy; VMC #517
Breakfast with the Nikolides by Rumer Godden; VMC #573
Listen to the Nightingale by Rumer Godden; VMC #580
The Ghostly Lover by Elizabeth Hardwick; VMC #216
Tin Toys Trilogy by Ursula Holden; VMC #571
Omnibus by Kathleen Dayus; VMC #221; wrong touchstone
(includes: Her People, All My Days, Where There's Life & The Best of Times

Conversation Piece by Molly Keane; VMC #368
Susan Spray by Sheila Kaye-Smith; VMC #116
A Jest of God by Margaret Laurence; VMC #252
The Stone Angel by Margaret Laurence; VMC #251
The Play Room by Olivia Manning; VMC #148
Brown Girl, Brownstones by Paule Marshall; VMC #87
The Corn King and the Spring Queen by Naomi Mitchison; VMC #123
The Four-Chambered Heart by Anais Nin; VMC #376
Olivia by Olivia/Dorothy Strachey; VMC #268
Ann Veronica by H.G. Wells; VMC #29
Clash by Ellen Wilkinson; VMC #313
A Model Childhood or Patterns of Childhood by Christa Wolf; VMC #106

And today in the post from Better World Books, just because we have been chatting about them, arrived the most beautiful green, unmarked & pure Virago edition of:
A Little Tea, A Little Chat by Christina Stead; VMC #59 and from PaperBackSwap a like new Virago fiction:
The Mineral Palace by Heidi Julavits.

Now I hope for a lot of quiet time this winter in which to do a LOT of reading and I AM on an official (ha) book purchasing moratorium though there remain a couple in the post wending their way to me.

N that, n that, n that's all folks!

Set 11, 2013, 8:45 pm

Gracious! That is a lot of new books! I need to pick out something for my anniversary, but I've had some trouble with the local independent bookstore manager (who doesn't care about or understand the book business) so I've been slightly soured...

Set 11, 2013, 9:07 pm

Oh no Meredith! One would think that the manager of an independent bookshop would be bending over backwards these days for their clientele seeing as how our independents are dropping life flies! Mercy, I think I might be encouraged to put through a call to the owner unless of course the manager is the owner. I am so sorry that you have had an unhappy experience there. I am fortunate in that I have never had a bad bookshop experience excepting online.
And very few of the books are new. I will admit I went overboard. *slaps hand*

Set 11, 2013, 10:39 pm

My sister and I (she used to manage the store and I was assistant manager some years back) have written some letters to the owner, but she really doesn't like to be involved in the running of the store (she's in her 70s). My sister was the book buyer for the past year and just got fired by e-mail by the manager basically because she knows more about the book business than he does and he's that kind of man. Sorry for the rant on your thread, I don't think I'll ever be calm about it.

Set 11, 2013, 11:58 pm

No problem Meredith. If we can't be here for each other, what are we doing here?
Sounds like the manager needs to go elsewhere to a different kind of business. I am sorry that you and your sis are having such a tough go of it. This must be terribly draining on both of you. I will remember both of you when I hit my knees tonight.

Set 12, 2013, 9:24 am

Hi Rainpebble,

Nice to meet you as well,

as for the book Heaven's Embroidered Cloths: Poems (Poetry Series) a quick check on Amazon.com and Abe.com show it can be had used in good or better condition pretty cheap, Got to love the internet for finding old books, I remember when I would have to scour used bookstore after bookstore, carrying a list, to find books i wanted.

Congrats on your Thingaversery too. I order so many books all the time, that I'd really have to go overboard, which might be a bad idea, running out of room. But wow that was quite a stack you picked up!

Happy reading !

Set 12, 2013, 4:34 pm

Thank you Stephen. And I went way overboard maxing out our VISA; not a good idea. I just simply got carried away but it was Christmas every day a fresh (to me) book arrived in the post. The only ones I ordered new were
Tin Toys Trilogy & Listen to the Nightingale. The others I ordered on the cheap which still yet works for me.
And I did just head over to Amazon.com & ordered a used copy of Heaven's Embroidered Cloths: Poems (Poetry Series). I am really looking forward to getting that one. It was 17 cents plus postage. Not bad. So thank you for that advice too. The new one was 173.10! Yowza!~!

Editado: Set 14, 2013, 1:15 pm

I am currently reading Meatless: More Than 200 of the Very Best Vegetarian Recipes by Martha Stewart Living, My Daughter's Eyes and Other Stories by Annecy Báez & Say You're One of Them by Uwem Akpan. The first is obviously a cookery book. The second is a book of interrelated short stories based on young Dominican women living in the Bronx & spans 3 decades. I am enjoying it so far. And the third is another book of short stories about the people of Africa. Loving this one though I am finding it very sad.

Set 14, 2013, 4:09 am

Wow! What a lot of books. Lucky you!!

Set 15, 2013, 10:28 pm

My Daughter's Eyes and Other Stories by Annecy Baez; 3 stars

A book of 17 short stories, My Daughter's Eyes, takes the reader from the very young age of our main character throughout, Mia, to her life three decades later when she is married and raising a daughter of her own.
Each story is about a different part of Mia's life although not necessarily from a different period of her life. They are all told in a very intimate manner which at times made this reader a bit uncomfortable but all are very well told.
There is a great deal of the preteen and teenage angst & rebellion within the covers of this book. But it is quite different than the stories written about Americanized youth of the same ages which made it a rather fascinating read. There is something very real about these stories and although this is a piece of fiction there is no doubt that a great deal is based on the author's life in one way or another.
I found it to be very interesting, enlightening in as far as the Dominican culture is described and I recommend it to those of you who are not put off by the unsavory details of real life.

Editado: Set 22, 2013, 3:22 am

Nine of my reads this month came from the library. I went in to pick up one book I had put a hold on and my weakness overcame me. Arghhhh!~! So much for ROOTs for August. Will be lucky if I get 1 or 2.
I am still reading Say You're One of Them and have just begun The Invisible Bridge. It seems really good here in the beginning.

Set 26, 2013, 2:43 pm

My awesome hubby with a few of the masses of sunflowers he planted; a full fifty feet of them about 4 to 5 deep. We both love them. They are such a happy flower.

Set 26, 2013, 8:03 pm

Wow. Impressive!

Set 27, 2013, 10:20 am

Those are Tall ! Nice ! Sunflowers are cool, but they take up lots of space.

Set 27, 2013, 11:13 am

Wow, that is a gorgeous patch. I think no matter how unhappy you are you can't help but smile when you see sunflowers.

Editado: Set 28, 2013, 4:21 pm

Thank you kids. They do take up space but we have 2 1/2 lots so we have a lot of space especially since our house is a small 2 bedroom. I think our shop is bigger than the house. lol!~! But the patch he planted is 50 feet across and about 3 feet deep. Happy, happy flowers!
And I do smile every time I look out at them. They are beginning to get a bit scraggly after two weeks of pretty hard rain. I am hoping for an Indian Summer soon so they will perk back up.

Out 4, 2013, 3:24 pm

Our beautiful lady, Mount Rainier, in the Autumn.

Editado: Out 4, 2013, 3:39 pm

How does one follow perfection? How does one follow a book that has held one's mind & soul for a week? How does one follow a story line that is so engaging that one feels physical pain as one reads? For this reader was affected by The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer in just these ways.

I have decided that the way I can go on to another book is to read something lighthearted, cozy & that can be read with an ease that is not distracting. So I have moved on to
Wild Strawberries by Angela Thirkell and what a hoot! If there is anyone in my world more vague than the Lady Emily, they have kept it well hidden from me. She cracks me up! Nothing seems to bother her, she just goes from day to day misplacing things and dropping her things and unwittingly expects others to pick up after her. I love her. This is the perfect book for me right now.

Out 5, 2013, 12:15 pm

Wow, that is high praise - adding The Invisible Bridge to my TBR list now.

Gorgeous pictures!

Out 5, 2013, 12:31 pm

Definitely adding The Invisible Bridge to my list as well!

Out 7, 2013, 1:04 am

I think you both will appreciate this one.
And thank you Jennifer.

Editado: Out 10, 2013, 3:02 am

Wild Strawberries was a great & really funny read. Now I am reading Austin City Blue. So comedic & a cop/mystery to lull me. It's not working yet even though I am enjoying these reads tremendously. Sometimes my world just becomes a dark place. IDK

Out 9, 2013, 1:17 am

It is so difficult to choose a new book after reading something you love. I do as you have. I choose something completely different so there can be no comparisons.

Editado: Out 10, 2013, 1:31 pm

>310 judylou::
It does make for less frustration and also less setting aside of books out of disappointment doesn't it Judy?

I finished Austin City Blue by Jan Grape & quite enjoyed it for what it was; a light mystery with girl cop as the protagonist. Then I moved on to Surfacing and I really liked it although a great many readers of this Atwood seem to disagree. Now I have begun a Richard Jury novel: The Old Contemptibles by Martha Grimes. I am only 40 pages in but it appears to be a light hearted & quick read. We'll see. It's my first Grimes. I am also reading my most recent ARC/ER: All Good Things: From Paris to Tahiti: Life and Longing by Sarah Turnbull.

note to self:
I really need to dig in and review my last 6 books:
The Bolter
The Invisible Bridge
Wild Strawberries
Austin City Blue

Out 15, 2013, 9:54 pm

Fly Away by Kristin Hannah; 2 1/1 stars

This sequel to Firefly Lane is not nearly as good nor as captivating as Firefly Lane. It continues the story of Tully & Kate & of Kate's family after they lose her to cancer.
The story is told from the POV of Tully, of Marah, (Kate's daughter), of Cloud/Dorothy, (Tully's mother), & even of the deceased Kate. It's not a bad story but I believe that it would have been much more engaging if told from one character's perspective.
It opens with Tully being in a horrendous auto accident & in a coma. The story goes back & forth in time depending on who is telling the story at any given time. There is a lot of guilt & dependencies within the circle of characters.
I did find all of the characters interesting & necessary to the book. But I won't read this one again.

Out 16, 2013, 2:10 am

Surfacing by Margaret Atwood; 4 stars

For me this book was an unsolved mystery & a thriller. My second Atwood, the first being The Penelopiad, & I again found myself enamored by her words, her phrasing and by her imagination.

Both Atwood tales I've read were deep & dark to me. I have to remain focused & must constantly think when I read her. (I wonder if all of her books are all like this.) She has a way of working her way into the deepest reaches of one's mind & she finds the humanity that exists and brings it to the front.

Surfacing is about a woman who returns to her home village in Canada. She is searching for her father in a cabin in the woods where she was raised. She is on this journey with her lover and another couple. As the days go by she finds herself returning to nature in every sense of that word. She becomes primal, driven to the point of madness, as she returns to this original state. It's not happy book. It's heartbreaking and beautiful. There's a purity to her madness, to this return to nature as she slowly loses her friends, her family, her memories, her sense of self.

This small novel really sucked me in and I read in a single sitting. I intently followed the unnamed female lead character through her attempts to find & understand the disappearance of her father.
Surfacing is a very sad & intense novel. And there is so much in it that I read & reread and yet I am sure that I still missed some of Atwood's understanding. I know that one day I will be in the mood to read this book again and it is definitely worth a reread.

Out 16, 2013, 2:28 am

Austin City Blue by Jan Grape; 3 stars

Austin City Blue is a story about one of Austin, Texas' finest. Zoe, one of the female cops on the force, fatally shoots a young man during a hostage situation & in self defense. The hostage is another policewoman. Only afterward does Zoe find out that the man she shot & killed is the same shooter who shot her husband who now lies in the hospital on life support and will never be the same. Zoe will never be the same.
She is assigned to desk duty as is protocol when there has been a shooting by a police officer. While she is on desk duty one of her snitches, a prostitute, is murdered. Zoe also learns that a friend of her husband's thinks his wife has hired someone to murder him.
Another killing and a suspicion of police corruption puts Zoe in a tenuous & vulnerable position and she is left to fight to keep her badge, her honor & her life.
A good mystery & detective story. I enjoyed it very much.

Out 16, 2013, 3:31 am

Wild Strawberries by Angela Thirkell; 4 1/2 stars

Angela Thirkell really knew how to write comedic stories that left the reader wanting more. Wild Strawberries is the second in her Barsetshire series & is as delightful as High Rising, the first.
Evidently one of Angela Thirkell's trademarks was to throw a lot of the characters at you and hope that you get them all sorted out quickly. I have no problem with that. I find it to be rather entertaining. I find all of her characters to be quite well defined & thus no confusion.
This novel is about the Leslie family, well-to-do with a lot of family members, friends & acquaintances. The mother cheerfully and lovingly rearranges any and all plans for those around her, however small, until they become an ineffective mess. Fortunately the servants and the family know to just carry on while letting her have her say & thinking she is having her way. She's a lovable character even though one of the most vague characters I have come across. She and her husband had three sons and a daughter. Their oldest son was killed in the war so they are raising his teenage son. Their second son John, is a remarkably kind and intelligent man in his mid-30's, whose wife died after just one year of marriage. Their youngest son David, is a flirt and a man-about-town, with dozens of ideas for a brilliant career, none of which seem to ever work out for him.
Their daughter Agnes, is married with three small children, appears a bit simple minded & yet manages to be fairly observant and able to rise to the occasion and save the day.
The catalyst for change is when Agnes' niece by marriage Mary Preston, comes to stay for the summer. She falls in love with David, the flirtatious son, but also strikes a sympathetic chord in the heart of John who happens to be in the right time and place to provide a shoulder to lean on when she is going through a little crisis.
Most of the characters have their own story going on as the narrative drives forward to the climax, the 17th birthday party of the Leslie's grandson.
I found myself laughing out loud while reading. This book is very cleverly written and there were times when I just had to pause in delighted surprise at some funny and unexpected moment. I also love how Thirkell gives her readers different shadings of some of the characters. Mrs. Leslie could have been nothing but a caricature what with all of her ridiculous plans and interference. But the author occasionally dwells on the way that she thinks about her son who was killed in the war. Things like that make it difficult to find Thirkell's characters just one dimensional. The reader ends up seeing different sides of them.
I quite enjoyed this read as I have enjoyed every Thirkell I have attempted.

Out 16, 2013, 12:12 pm

Both Atwood tales I've read were deep & dark to me. I have to remain focused & must constantly think when I read her. (I wonder if all of her books are all like this.)

Pretty much, yes. The ones I've read, anyway. I think she's worth the work, though.

Editado: Out 17, 2013, 12:37 am

Hello Dr. Fetting. Thus far, like you, I have found her well worth the work. I love her phrasing and also how she grows her characters. When finished with one of her books I have a sense of accomplishment. I also like that they stay with me. It has easily been a couple of years since I read The Penelopiad & it remains so very fresh in my mind yet today.

Out 17, 2013, 9:05 am

The Penelopiad is amazing, I agree. I've read other re-tellings of famous stories, and no one else manages to both reflect the original AND make it entirely their own the way Atwood does. She's a genius and I fully expect her to win the Nobel Prize someday.

The Blind Assassin may be my other favorite. It took me awhile to understand what was going on (intentionally, I think, on Atwood's part) but once I did I loved it.

Editado: Out 20, 2013, 3:31 pm

I do have The Blind Assassin on hand with a few others of hers. I can't decide which one to read next. I have misplaced Oryx and Crake, Cat's Eye, & Life Before Man or loaned them out. :-( IDK
But I still have The Handmaid's Tale, Alias Grace, The Edible Woman, Lady Oracle, Bodily Harm & Dancing Girls along with The Blind Assassin. Perhaps I shall just pull one out of the hat or go with the one most highly rated here on LT.

Out 20, 2013, 3:33 pm

The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer; 5 stars

About half-way through this book I knew I was in the middle of one of the best novels I have ever read.

In the late 1930s Andras Levi begins his life as a young ambitious architecture student travelling from Hungary to Paris for his studies. He makes a small circle of friends, finds a job in a theater and learns to speak French. He falls in love with a woman, Klara, who is a bit older than himself. She cannot seem to commit to him though they do share some blissful, romantic months together. Eventually he learns that his scholarship has been revoked because he is of Jewish descent.

While all this is happening to Andras, Hitler is quickly gaining more power throughout Europe. Soon war breaks out. Andras is forced to return to his Hungary, an ally of Germany. Klara returns with him as his wife. He is soon called to join a forced labor unit and things begin to turn much darker and more intense. We learn more about Andras' and Klara's families. Orringer weaves such a believable story of love, anguish and torture and I quickly became totally immersed in the story.

But as Andras marched to work, shoveled earth, ate the miserable food and slogged home through the mud, he didn't feel indignant. In fact he hardly felt anything at all. He was just an animal trying to survive. He was one of millions. And yet he learns what he must do to survive. He survives by remembering the great love of his life. He makes himself a willing party to the life saving trick of life and love. It barely sustains him.

The historic presentation of this book is as forceful and gripping as it is chilling and haunting. Orringer's ability to translate into words the shattering horror of the Jewish experience of the Holocaust and World War II is masterful storytelling of a wrenching, emotional intensity. The story is a familiar one in the telling of the subjection of the Jews, the subjection of human beings to the social forces which have stripped everything away from them and they are made small, consigned to impossibility, crammed into a space too narrow to suffice life.

I was fascinated by the portrayal of Hungary's role in the conflict. I found the historical aspect well integrated with Andras' own history. The characters were very well developed. The lovely Klara, the older woman whom Andras meets in Paris causes him so much joy, confusion and angst. His fellow architecture students, especially the tragic figure of Polaner, who remains steadfast in his devotion to Andras. His supportive older brother Tibor is a constant source of encouragement, even in the face of death. There is an extensive cast of characters who affect Andras' life. Each one with a distinct role in shaping him into the man he would become.

The strength of Orringer's novel is the tender and poignant testimony of the human spirit, the fragile structure of a human being standing against the barbaric forces of history. It is a touching story of the power of love, the foundation of life which withstands the horror, tragedy, grief and despair that come with war.

I cannot say enough wonderful things about this exquisite novel. The skill in which it was written, the seamless blend of history and fiction, and the emotion it evokes is as close to perfection as anything I've read.

I very highly recommend this novel. My only complaint is that I would have liked it to go on for another 784 pages.

Out 20, 2013, 6:45 pm

The Bolter by Frances Osborne; 4 1/2 stars

I truly enjoyed this book by Osborne, the great granddaughter of the protagonist, Idena Sackville. She is described as "darling but naughty" and "smooth, sunburned, golden-tireless and gay." Simply put if Idena's relationship was not working out to her benefit, she simply 'bolted' and fled to Kenya. She inevitably would meet someone there who tickled her fancy for a time. When that time was up she would usually return to England and eventually find a new man. But somehow she always returned to her beautiful Kenya.
I don't believe that she was ever truly a happy woman. I believe that her true love was her first husband and the father of her two sons, whom she left when she and their father divorced. She was married 5 times and had 3 children. The two boys by her first husband and a daughter by one of her later 4 husbands. And of course in between and during, there were a myriad of lovers. While I did not admire Idena I did find myself feeling quite sad for her. I wanted her to be happy but from the beginning of the book, the reader knows that with her temperament she is condemned to be constantly searching for happiness.
My favorite parts of the book were the descriptive portions about Africa and the historical events which occurred there during the time frame of the book.
I really liked this book and highly recommend it to readers to whom it may appeal.

Editado: Out 20, 2013, 7:12 pm

Aria by Nassim Assefi; 3 1/2 stars

In her debut novel Assefi has chosen to write about an Iranian-American oncologist who loses all of her loved ones. While pregnant with her daughter Aria, Jasmine's boyfriend Justin, passes away suddenly. Estranged from her disapproving Iranian parents, Jasmine finds herself alone until best friend little person Dottie takes her into her heart. Together these fiercely independent women rear Aria. But when a teenager in a car cuts the little girl's life short Jasmine is faced with the stark reality that she has been orphaned from her family. She sets out on an emotional journey around the world seeking comfort, solace & understanding of her life.

Still reeling from the shock, Jasmine treks across the world. Working in Guatemala and meditating in Tibet she eventually finds herself in Iran visiting the parents who turned their backs on her a number of years ago. There she discovers her family history and finds true inner strength.

Aria is written in a series of letters to Dottie, Aria, Justin and Jasmine's deceased grandmother. Several letters and essays from Dottie and the teen driver who took Aria's life are included in the novel to fill in background information. Though these expository pieces are essential to the novel's plot the letters at times break the flow of the novel. Despite this Jasmine's outpouring of grief shines through as only a mother's loss can.

Like an operatic aria, Assefi's expose of Jasmine's relationships are lyrical and passionate. Jasmine eventually realizes that she is stronger than she has thought and that she has a strong support system of friends and family that she can turn to.

This is a book I picked up on a whim at the library and I'm glad I did. While not great, this was a very good read.

Out 28, 2013, 6:20 pm

Say You're One of Them by Uwem Akpan; 3 1/2 stars

Say You're One of Them is a powerful collection of short stories. Told from the perspective of young children the collection takes us into the brutality of the children's lives in Africa. Each story is a slow awakening to unbelievable horrors for both the child and the reader.

The first story, An Ex-Mas Feast, looks at a poverty striken family that must rely on their twelve year old daughter's income to survive. She has to prostitute herself for food and money but she is trying to earn enough money so her younger brother can go to school.

The children in Fattening for Gabon are being prepared for sale into slavery by their uncle. This story was bigger than life.

In What Language Is That? two little Ethiopian girls are best friends until their parents suddenly say they cannot speak to each other anymore because one is Muslim and the other is Christian.

In Luxurious Hearses a Nigerian boy from the North is trying to escape to relatives in the South on a bus filled with the same religious animosity that he hopes to escape.

The final story, My Parent's Bedroom, describes the violence between the Rwandan Hutus and Tutsis as seen through the eyes of a young girl who has mixed parentage.

Each story is a work of fiction but is based on real situations that have transpired. In the Afterword the writer offers his belief that publicizing these stories is an attempt to enlighten the world about Africa's children, which in turn may create a passionate desire to create a safer place for children all over the world. I hope that this book does indeed foster that effect.

Nov 2, 2013, 2:55 am

Our beautiful lady, Mount Rainier in the Autumn.


85. The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer; L/L 2011; (5*)

For my monthly Virago reads:
86. Wild Strawberries by Angela Thirkell; VMC; (4 1/2*)
87. Surfacing by Margaret Atwood; VMC; (4*)
88. Sleepless Nights by Elizabeth Hardwick; (3 1/2*)
89. The Third Miss Symons by F.M. Mayor; (4*)
90. An Episode of Sparrows by Rumor Godden; (5*)

91. Austin City Blue by Jan Grape; (3*)
92. Say You're One of Them by Uwem Akpan; (3 1/2*)
93. Fly Away by Kristin Hannah; (2 1/2*)
94. About My Sisters by Debra Ginsberg; (3 1/2*)
95. Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons; (4 1/2*)

Nov 2, 2013, 2:57 am

I Can't Think Straight by Shamim Sarif; 4 stars

I found this to be a beautifully written book about illicit love. It is a love story taking place in Apartheid Africa within the Indian & white community. There are of course the horrors that we read of during the time of Apartheid but the main storyline is of two women. Tala, a Palestinian woman from London and Leyla, a British Indian woman, are attracted to one another and fall in love. They try to find a way to be together. The story is told, as I said, beautifully and with very good taste.

"I Can't Think Straight explores the clashes between East and West, love and marriage, conventions and individuality, creating a humorous and tender story of unexpected love and unusual freedoms."

I thought this book exquisite and would love to read more like it.

Nov 2, 2013, 11:39 am

Oh, I'm glad to hear about I Can't Think Straight! I've actually had the movie on my Netflix list for ages and didn't know it was a book.

Nov 3, 2013, 1:50 am

>326 mabith::
Oh yes, Meredith and such a good one. I so enjoyed it. I didn't realize there was a movie of it. I shall have to see if I can find it.

Nov 3, 2013, 1:18 am

Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons; 4 1/2 stars

This story is such a hoot. I can't believe that I put off the reading of it for so very long.
It's the story of a young British lady, Flora, whose parents have died and she only has one hundred pounds a year so she must find a relative to take her in. She sends out letters of entreaty and amongst the responses she only finds one that does not seem tiresome to her; her relation at Cold Comfort Farm. So she goes to the country.
When she arrives at the farm she finds the house sitting in the midst of a muddy yard. In fact no one uses the front door because of all the mud. One must use the back door. Here at the farm Flora finds a great many Aunts, Uncles and cousins.
Her Great Aunt Ada Doom, the matriarch, has remained in her room for twenty years and rules the farm with an iron hand. She comes downstairs twice yearly to count the family and make certain that no one has left/escaped. There is a cousin Seth, who wants to be in pictures, a cousin Amos who preaches wildly, a Cousin Reuben who wants to run the farm, an exquisite cousin who is a fairy girl and runs wild round the countryside & the hills quoting poetry & writing it as well. Frankly, the entire family is a mess.
But Flora takes it all neatly in hand and within a short time she has everyone neatly in their niche, including seeing Great Aunt Ada off to Paris, and she is neatly returning to London herself.
This is a rollicking, laugh out loud tale and it was great therapy for me as I laughed & giggled my way through. I very highly recommend this book & look forward to finding more like it. If any of you out there have any titles similar to Cold Comfort Farm, I should certainly like to entertain them.

Nov 3, 2013, 8:55 am

I have no idea why, but I'd thought Cold Comfort Farm was a serious book. Definitely going on the list!

Editado: Nov 4, 2013, 11:24 am

>329 mabith::
I had thought that it was going to be a big downer myself until I read it. I was expecting something like Ethan Frome, ya know? I think you will like it Meredith.

I am currently reading Seducers in Ecuador by Vita Sackville-West and getting ready to begin The Pursuit of Love by Nancy Mitford. I love Vita and have most of her books. Likewise I have always heard about the Mitfords and have so many books about them and a few by them but haven't read any of them yet so thought it was a good time to start on this very blustery day.

Nov 11, 2013, 8:58 pm

I just now finished The Easter Party by Vita Sackville-West. It averaged only 3 1/2 stars here on LT but I am giving it 4 1/2 as I absolutely loved it. In the beginning I was certain that I would find myself disliking the cold, aloof Walter but I found myself sympathetic with him throughout. Lucy was the one who got on my nerves and the Vicar's wife of course. But I thought it beautifully written and much meatier than I anticipated.

Nov 18, 2013, 2:56 am

Since I was last here I opted to set aside The Pursuit of Love. The timing was just off so I moved on to Seducers in Ecuador; and The Heir, Plagued by the Nightingale and am now finishing Monday or Tuesday: Eight Stories by Virginia Woolf. Some really good stuff here!

Nov 19, 2013, 4:51 pm

Today I have begun 2 fresh reads. The first is The Marble Faun and A Green Bough by William Faulkner and the second is The Jungle Books by Rudyard Kipling. The first because I felt like reading something by 'the man' and the second to cheer me up.

Nov 24, 2013, 12:30 pm

I am still reading the Faulkner. It is very dreamy with a lot of romantic scenes though no romance at all. Very different from the Faulkner we think we know. I so enjoyed reading The Jungle Books again. What fun and these stories bring back many lovely childhood memories with my two younger brothers and also my own children & my grandchildren's young years.
I am now reading Christopher and Columbus by Elizabeth von Arnim & loving it as well. I began it on my Kindle on the trip home from Mt. Vernon, Wa yesterday where we played & won our second round of the State Football Playoffs. Next Saturday we will play in the Tacoma Dome in the Simi-Finals. But when I got home I switched to the hard copy of the book & I had not realized what a chunkster it is, having exactly 500 pages.

Dez 1, 2013, 4:48 pm


96. Girl With A Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier; (4*)

Viragos for the month:
97. Seducers in Ecuador by Vita Sackville-West; (2 1/2*)
98. The Heir by Vita Sackville-West; (5*)
99. Plagued by the Nightingale by Kay Boyle; (4 1/2*)
100. Christopher and Columbus by Elizabeth von Arnim; (4 1/2*)

101. I Can't Think Straight by Shamim Sarif; (4*)
102. The Easter Party by Vita Sackville-West; (4 1/2*)
103. Monday or Tuesday: Eight Stories by Virginia Woolf; (3*)
104. The Jungle Books by Rudyard Kipling; (4*)

Dez 1, 2013, 4:50 pm

Now I need to take the time to sit down and review them. Football season & daycaring the grands doesn't leave a lot of book time.

Dez 15, 2013, 8:25 pm

Bah, Humbug! by Heather Horrocks; 3 stars

This is simply a nice little Christmas story about a mother of two who turns the holidays of her neighbor & his family into a time of celebration rather than mourning.
I enjoyed it a great deal and recommend it to those of you who are looking for a cozy Christmasy read that doesn't tax the brain.

Dez 18, 2013, 11:02 am

Certain Poor Shepherds by Elizabeth Marshall Thomas

Here the Nativity is told in an entirely new and fresh way. The story from the perspective of 2 animal shepherds, a dog & a goat, who see & smell the star that leads those who follow it to the stable where the Christ child lay.
They watch the star for several days and know that something of great importance is occurring beneath it's location in the sky.
They observe angels flying over and around them and see them come down in the very fields where their sheep are grazing. It seems the angels are hungry as well.
They observe a great caravan of camels and servants with wealthy masters traveling and when the caravan halts the dog & goat become aware that the masters have brought with them a great eagle and a cheetah.
Their master trusts the dog & goat to care for his herds and protect them. But as they watch the star in the East the dog can no longer keep at bay the urgings to follow. And so with one last look at the herd of sheep and her fellow shepherd, the goat, the dog at last obeys that urge and follows.
What follows in this lovely story is what occurs to the dog upon her travels, what she finds when she arrives at the stable and what occurs to her on her return trip.
This would be a wonderful book to read aloud to one's children at this time of year. I enjoyed it a great deal and gave it 3 1/2 stars.

Dez 20, 2013, 2:09 pm

The Christmas Star by Diane Darcy

This is a nice little Christmas story about a couple who broke up five years ago due to their fathers fighting. She moved away and each of them has blamed the other all of these years.
Her mother wishes upon the bright star that all of the fighting and feuding will end and all will come together in harmony. Her daughter comes home for the Christmas holidays, forgives her father and things move on from there to a very nice Christmasy ending as with most of these little Christmas novellas.
But it was a lovely & relaxing read for the season and I really enjoyed it. It took me out of all of the business & rushing about for a time. I gave it 3 stars.

Editado: Jan 1, 2014, 3:15 am

My December reads:

105. Paradise by Toni Morrison; (2 1/2*)
106. What Looks Like Crazy On An Ordinary Day by Pearl Cleage; (3*)
107. Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier; (5*)
108. Bah! Humbug by L.L. Bartlett; (3*)
109. She's Come Undone by Wally Lamb; (5*)
110. Certain Poor Shepherds by Elizabeth Marshall Thomas; (3 1/2*)
111. The Inn at the Edge of the World by Alice Thomas Ellis; (2 1/2*)
112. The Christmas Star by Catherine Lanigan; (3*)
113. The Marble Faun and A Green Bough by William Faulkner; (3*)
114. The Christmas Box by Richard Paul Evans; (4*)
115. The Eyes of the Dragon by Stephen King; (4*)

I am currently reading Christmas at High Rising by Angela Thirkell though I don't believe I will complete
it today.

Happy New Year everyone.

Editado: Nov 23, 2014, 1:54 pm

I have yet to complete my reviews for my 2013 reading.

So here is:

105. Paradise by Toni Morrison

Non-linear and filled with many characters, some of those having multiple names, don't expect Paradise to be a casual Sunday stroll in the park. About a third of the way through I stopped struggling & let myself simply experience the novel. I stopped trying to make sense of it and just read it. That did make it easier to read though I NEVER find Toni Morrison's books easy to read. If one enjoyed the book I would think it would require more than one reading. I didn't & so I won't be reading this one again.
Although emotionally and beautifully rich in Morrison prose as always, her novels require patience & thought, an open mind & a willingness to just let her lead you where she will without having attempting to understand how or why.
I must say however, that the more of Morrison I read the less I enjoy/appreciate her work other than for the lovely prose.

Nov 23, 2014, 1:54 pm

106. What Looks Like Crazy on an Ordinary Day by Pearl Cleage; 3 stars

At first I thought a book about an HIV positive woman was too heavy for the solace I was hoping to garner from reading it. So I did what I usually do to decide if a book is worth reading. I read the first couple of pages right there in the bookstore. Before I even got half way down the page I decided that the woman was amusing and that I liked the 'talking to your best friend' style in which the book was written.
The characters in this book are well developed and skillfully depicted. There is actually a 'good' black man in this novel, and what is even better, more than one. The characters are real and engaging and I enjoyed/appreciated each of them for 'what they brought to the table'.
This book is spot on. I read it in one afternoon. I found myself unable to put it down. It was a very interesting read and an entertaining one even through the tough times.

Nov 23, 2014, 1:58 pm

110. Certain Poor Shepherds by Elizabeth Marshall Thomas; (3 1/2*)

Here the Nativity is told in an entirely new and fresh way. The story from the perspective of 2 animal shepherds, a dog & a goat, who see & smell the star that leads those who follow it to the stable where the Christ child lay.
They watch the star for several days and know that something of great importance is occurring beneath it's location in the sky.
They observe angels flying over and around them and see them come down in the very fields where their sheep are grazing. It seems the angels are hungry as well.
They observe a great caravan of camels and servants with wealthy masters traveling and when the caravan halts the dog & goat become aware that the masters have brought with them a great eagle and a cheetah.
Their master trusts the dog & goat to care for his herds and protect them. But as they watch the star in the East the dog can no longer keep at bay the urgings to follow. And so with one last look at the herd of sheep and her fellow shepherd, the goat, the dog at last obeys that urge and follows.
What follows in this lovely story is what occurs to the dog upon her travels, what she finds when she arrives at the stable and what occurs to her on her return trip.
This would be a wonderful book to read aloud to one's children at this time of year. I enjoyed it a great deal and gave it 3 1/2 stars.

Nov 23, 2014, 2:00 pm

111. The Inn at the Edge of the World by Alice Thomas Ellis; (2 1/2*)

Five people answer an ad to get away from the hustle & bustle of the Christmas season by spending their Christmas week at a quiet & lonely Inn located in a small village far from everything.
They are brought together, some on the train & others at the dock where a boat has been readied for them to take to the island.
They all find activities to keep themselves occupied throughout their time at the Inn.
One lady visits a woman who knits sweaters individually designed for each family of fishermen. This is so that when a fisherman is lost at sea, he can be identified by his sweater when he washes up. When the lady returns to visit the knitting woman later she finds there is no cottage nor woman there.
Another lady reads & takes long walks. She finds herself constantly approached & followed by one of the male guests who insists that they know one another & not only that but that they are lovers. She later, as she continues to reject him, comes to the conclusion that he is attempting to murder her.
One of the gentleman guests is a psychoanalyst & the locals seem to be bringing their pathos, dreams & lives to him for explanation.
Harry, my favorite character of the story, spends his time writing a book about a gentleman rather unknown. He also fears that the one guest is following one of the ladies looking for the right time & place to do her in.
I enjoyed the way in which Ellis wrote the book & I really wanted to like it. I have heard a great deal of good about this one but I found it to be just an okay read. On some level it simply didn't work for me.

Nov 23, 2014, 2:06 pm

115. The Eyes of The Dragon by Stephen King; (4*)

I do not love Stephen King, as much of his work that I have attempted to read is simply too graphic for me nor I do not like that he makes children & animals the conduit for many of his stories. That being said I loved this fantasy tale of darkness & light, of good & evil. I have not read this book before yet the story seemed a familiar one to me.
This tale is about an evil magician who has lived for thousands of years & is bent on destroying the kingdom of Delain once again as he has many times in its history. Each time Delain has a worthy King or Queen, Flagg for that is the magician's name, would return and bring the kingdom to it's knees.
This story concerns the reader with Roland the good, the current King & his two sons: Peter, the very bright & engaging Prince who would be King and his younger brother Thomas who is not quite so bright, fears everything, is very needy & not nearly as sure of himself as is Peter.
Things are going too well within the kingdom of Delain to serve Flagg. They have a sound economy. The people are happy with their King & the Prince who will be King & with their lives in general. But Flagg needs a King he can easily manipulate in order to bring the kingdom to its knees. So he kills King Roland, sees that Prince Peter is blamed for the crime & sent to the tower. Now he has a very malleable King Thomas to work with.
This book is a page-turner & this reader could not put it down. I highly recommend it to those of you who are looking for an entertaining read & who enjoy a bit (or a lot) of surrealism or magic realism.